Why go for a computation-based approach to cognitive representation

Synthese (forthcoming)
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The traditional view in (philosophy of) cognitive science is that computation in cognitive systems conceptually depends on representation: to compute is to manipulate representations. I argue that accepting the non-semantic teleomechanistic view of computation lays the ground for a promising alternative strategy, in which computation helps to explain and naturalise representation, rather than the other way around. I show that this computation-based approach to representation presents six decisive advantages over the traditional view. I claim that it can improve the two most influential current theories of representation, teleosemantics and structural representation, by providing them with precious tools to tackle some of their main shortcomings. In addition, the computation-based approach opens up interesting new theoretical paths for the project of naturalising representation, in which teleology plays a role in individuating computations, but not representations.
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Archival date: 2021-02-19
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