Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-22 (forthcoming)
|Abstract||The claim that similarity plays a role in representation has been philosophically discredited. Psychologists, however, routinely analyse the success of mental representations for guiding behaviour in terms of a similarity between representation and the world. I provide a foundation for this practice by developing a philosophically responsible account of the relationship between similarity and representation in natural systems. I analyse similarity in terms of the existence of a suitable homomorphism between two structures. The key insight is that by restricting attention to only those homomorphisms induced by causal processes, we can solve two philosophical problems with a single assumption. First, causal structure provides an adequate source for the bias required to ensure the similarity relation is non-trivial; second, it provides an adequate source for the directionality required to move from similarity to representation. I defend this account against objections by Goodman and van Fraassen and demonstrate that it is indeed the account of similarity's role in representation assumed by psychological practice|
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