In defense of representation

Cognitive Psychology 40 (2):138--171 (2000)
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Abstract

The computational paradigm, which has dominated psychology and artificial intelligence since the cognitive revolution, has been a source of intense debate. Recently, several cognitive scientists have argued against this paradigm, not by objecting to computation, but rather by objecting to the notion of representation. Our analysis of these objections reveals that it is not the notion of representation per se that is causing the problem, but rather specific properties of representations as they are used in various psychological theories. Our analysis suggests that all theorists accept the idea that cognitive processing involves internal information-carrying states that mediate cognitive processing. These mediating states are a superordinate category of representations. We discuss five properties that can be added to mediating states and examine their importance in various cognitive models. Finally, three methodological lessons are drawn from our analysis and discussion.

Author's Profile

Eric Dietrich
State University of New York at Binghamton

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