The objective of the current paper is to provide a critical analysis of Dretske's defense of the naturalistic version of the privileged accessibility thesis. Dretske construed that the justificatory condition of privileged accessibility neither relies on the appeal to perspectival ontology of phenomenal subjectivity nor on the functionalistic notion of accessibility. He has reformulated introspection (which justifies the non-inferentiality of the knowledge of one's own mental facts in an internalist view) as a displaced perception for the defense of naturalistic privileged (...) accessibility. Both internalist and externalist have been approved the plausibility of first-person authority argument through privileged accessibility; however, their disagreement lies on the justificatory condition of privileged accessibility. Internalist hold the view that the justificatory warrant for privileged accessibility is grounded on phenomenal subjectivity. In contrast to the internalist view, externalists uphold the view that the justificatory condition for privileged accessibility lies outside the domain of phenomenal subjectivity. As a proponent of naturalistic content externalism, Dretske defends the view that subject's privileged accessibility is not due to having access to the particular representational state (hence, they have the privilege of getting sensory representational information) and the awareness of mental fact rather the awareness of the whole representational mechanism. Having the knowledge of a particular representational state through privileged access is not the sufficient condition for the accuracy of knowledge about one’s own mental facts. The justificatory warrant lies external to the subject. Even though Dretske’s naturalistic representation is not plausible enough while dealing with the reduction of phenomenal qualities of experience, however, provides a new roadmap to compatibilists for the defense of privileged accessibility and has a major impact on transparency theorists. (shrink)
This book develops a new approach to the mind called mental fictionalism. The key idea behind this approach is that the mind is a useful fiction. The book begins with our ordinary conception of the mind (known as folk psychology). At present, the dominant interpretation of folk psychology sees it as an attempt to describe our inner machinery (a view the author calls Cartesianism). The representational theory of mind (or representationalism) argues that our folk theory is true, and that our (...) thoughts (especially our propositional attitudes, such as beliefs and desires) are representations inside our heads. Mental fictionalism offers a new interpretation of folk psychology. According to mental fictionalism, when we attribute beliefs and desires, we do not claim that people have representations inside their heads; we merely pretend that they do. Our ordinary conception of the mind is fundamentally metaphorical: we project the ‘outer world’ of human culture (especially language) onto the ‘inner world’ of the mind. This is an enormously useful way of making sense of people and their behaviour. But we should not forget that this inner world is only a fiction. (shrink)
This chapter introduces several versions of mental fictionalism, along with the main lines of objection and reply. It begins by considering the debate between eliminative materialism (“eliminativism”) versus realism about mental states as conceived in “folk psychology” (i.e., beliefs, desires, intentions, etc.). Mental fictionalism offers a way to transcend the debate by allowing talk of mental states without a commitment to realism. The idea is to treat folk psychology as a “story” and three different elaborations of this are reviewed. First, (...) prefix semantics paraphrases a sentence like ‘Biden believes that Trump lost’ as ‘According to folk psychology, Biden believes that Trump lost’, whereby ontological commitment to belief is avoided. Similarly, pretense theory suggests that we do not assert ‘Biden believes that Trump lost’, but only pretend to assert it. Third, affective theory proposes that such discourse is used in a metaphorical way to understand a person’s affective and dispositional states vis-a-vis the community. The main objections concern whether folk psychology has the features of storytelling, and whether mental fictionalism ends up being self-refuting. The chapter also recaps a less discussed fictionalist view about “qualia” or phenomenal states, and closes by summarizing the papers contained in the volume. (shrink)
What are mental states? When we talk about people’s beliefs or desires, are we talking about what is happening inside their heads? If so, might cognitive science show that we are wrong? Might it turn out that mental states do not exist? Mental fictionalism offers a new approach to these longstanding questions about the mind. Its core idea is that mental states are useful fictions. When we talk about mental states, we are not formulating hypotheses about people’s inner machinery. Instead, (...) we simply talk "as if" people had certain inner states, such as beliefs or desires, in order to make sense of their behaviour. This is the first book dedicated to exploring mental fictionalism. Featuring contributions from established authors as well as up-and-coming scholars in this burgeoning field, the book reveals the exciting potential of a fictionalist approach to the mind, as well as the challenges it faces. In doing so, it offers a fresh perspective on foundational debates in the philosophy of mind, such as the nature of mental states and folk psychology, as well as hot topics in the field, such as embodied cognition and mental representation. Mental Fictionalism: Philosophical Explorations essential reading for advanced undergraduates, postgraduates and professionals alike. (shrink)
Radical enactivists claim that cognition is split in two distinct kinds, which can be differentiated by how they relate to mental content. In their view, basic cognitive activities involve no mental content whatsoever, whereas linguistically scaffolded, non-basic, cognitive activities constitutively involve the manipulation of mental contents. Here, I evaluate how this dichotomy applies to imagination, arguing that the sensory images involved in basic acts of imaginations qualify as vehicles of content, contrary to what radical enactivists claim. To argue so, I (...) leverage what has appropriately been dubbed a “compare to prototype” argument. Hence, I will first identify, within the enactivist literature, the general functional profile of a vehicle of content complying with the austere standard of contentfulness radical enactivists adhere to. Provided such a profile, I will show, relying on a mixture of reasoning and empirical evidence, that basic sensory images satisfy it, and thus that they can rightfully be identified as vehicles of content. This, I claim, provides a sufficient reason to identify the sensory images involved in basic acts of imagination as vehicles of content, thereby denying that basic imagination does not involve mental content. (shrink)
The irreducibility thesis of phenomenal consciousness can only succeed against the sceptical attack and avoid solipsism iff it can coherently establish the transition from subjective certainty to the objectivity of knowledge. The sceptical attack on the relationship between the phenomenal qualitative character of experience about the subjects own mental fact and the awareness of the qualitative properties of the phenomenal object can be avoided through establishing the immediacy of experience. The phenomenal realist become successful in establishing the subjective certainty about (...) the knowledge of phenomenal consciousness, however, has been failed in establishing objective certainty of knowledge, which leads to several epistemological problems (i.e., scepticism about the independent existence of external world, knowledge about the external reality and the existence of other mind; popularly known as the harder problem of consciousness) in philosophy of mind. In this paper, my objective is to reveal the undesirable consequences of representationalism. Representationalism is not an ideal option for responding to the sceptical attack against the other minds and the reality of the external world. It always leaves an open question for us about the relation between the representation of the object of experience and consciousness. Representationalistic theories of experience violates the principles of phenomenality by rejecting the immediacy of experience and has been committing the pragmatic contradiction by reducing the phenomenal properties to representational properties. The categorization of knowledge about phenomenality as inferential knowledge by representationalist leave no room for foundational knowledge about phenomenality. (shrink)
Un citron, La Joconde et le Père Noël. Aucun de ces trois objets ne se trouve dans notre esprit, pourtant, nous parvenons à les concevoir. Comment ? Mobilisant les ressources du pragmatisme et de la philosophie des techniques, Pierre Steiner développe l’idée que nos pensées ne visent pas le monde mais y sont inscrites. -/- Les principales traditions philosophiques ont en commun le présupposé que l’esprit serait comme un archer qui aurait le pouvoir, par la pensée, de « viser le (...) monde », ce que l’on nomme « intentionnalité », et l’idée que les techniques ne sont que des applications de celle-ci. Contre ces présupposés, l’auteur propose une relecture critique de l’histoire de la philosophie ainsi qu’une reconsidération de la nature technique de notre intelligence. -/- Une pensée est un acte qui nous engage dans une situation et les concepts ne sont pas des représentations mais des techniques d’usage de signes. En dialoguant rigoureusement avec la phénoménologie et la philosophie analytique du langage et de l’esprit, mais aussi avec les sciences cognitives, Pierre Steiner combine dans cet ouvrage archéologie historique et discussion critique. Il aboutit à un positionnement radicalement nouveau. (shrink)
Debate on the nature of representation in cognitive systems tends to oscillate between robustly realist views and various anti‐realist options. I defend an alternative view, deflationary realism, which sees cognitive representation as an offshoot of the extended application to cognitive systems of an explanatory model whose primary domain is public representation use. This extended application, justified by a common explanatory target, embodies idealisations, partial mismatches between model and reality. By seeing representation as part of an idealised model, deflationary realism avoids (...) the problems with robust realist views, while keeping allegiance to realism. (shrink)
Many philosophers claim that the neurocomputational framework of predictive processing entails a globally inferentialist and representationalist view of cognition. Here, I contend that this is not correct. I argue that, given the theoretical commitments these philosophers endorse, no structure within predictive processing systems can be rightfully identified as a representational vehicle. To do so, I first examine some of the theoretical commitments these philosophers share, and show that these commitments provide a set of necessary conditions the satisfaction of which allows (...) us to identify representational vehicles. Having done so, I introduce a predictive processing system capable of active inference, in the form of a simple robotic “brain”. I examine it thoroughly, and show that, given the necessary conditions highlighted above, none of its components qualifies as a representational vehicle. I then consider and allay some worries my claim could raise. I consider whether the anti-representationalist verdict thus obtained could be generalized, and provide some reasons favoring a positive answer. I further consider whether my arguments here could be blocked by allowing the same representational vehicle to possess multiple contents, and whether my arguments entail some extreme form of revisionism, answering in the negative in both cases. A quick conclusion follows. (shrink)
Structural representations are increasingly popular in philosophy of cognitive science. A key virtue they seemingly boast is that of meeting Ramsey's job description challenge. For this reason, structural representations appear tailored to play a clear representational role within cognitive architectures. Here, however, I claim that structural representations do not meet the job description challenge. This is because even our most demanding account of their functional profile is satisfied by at least some receptors, which paradigmatically fail the job description challenge. Hence, (...) the functional profile typically associated with structural representations does not identify representational posits. After a brief introduction, I present, in the second section of the paper, the job description challenge. I clarify why receptors fail to meet it and highlight why, as a result, they should not be considered representations. In the third section I introduce what I take to be the most demanding account of structural representations at our disposal, namely Gładziejewski's account. Provided the necessary background, I turn from exposition to criticism. In the first half of the fourth section, I equate the functional profile of structural representations and receptors. To do so, I show that some receptors boast, as a matter of fact, all the functional features associated with structural representations. Since receptors function merely as causal mediators, I conclude structural representations are mere causal mediators too. In the second half of the fourth section I make this conclusion intuitive with a toy example. I then conclude the paper, anticipating some objections my argument invites. (shrink)
Philosophers interested in the theoretical consequences of predictive processing often assume that predictive processing is an inferentialist and representationalist theory of cognition. More specifically, they assume that predictive processing revolves around approximated Bayesian inferences drawn by inverting a generative model. Generative models, in turn, are said to be structural representations: representational vehicles that represent their targets by being structurally similar to them. Here, I challenge this assumption, claiming that, at present, it lacks an adequate justification. I examine the only argument (...) offered to establish that generative models are structural representations, and argue that it does not substantiate the desired conclusion. Having so done, I consider a number of alternative arguments aimed at showing that the relevant structural similarity obtains, and argue that all these arguments are unconvincing for a variety of reasons. I then conclude the paper by briefly highlighting three themes that might be relevant for further investigation on the matter. (shrink)
Starting from Brentano’s classical characterization of intentionality, we review the radical enactivist proposal about basic cognition and show that the underlying assumption that stripping teleosemantics of its representationalist commitments results in no explanatory loss is unwarranted. Significant features of basic cognition are lost, or so we argue, with the RECtification of teleosemantics that are retrieved by means of an alternative dubbed metaphysically non-committal content-ascriptivism.
What is the relationship between mental states and items of material culture, like notebooks, maps or lists? The extended mind thesis offers an influential and controversial answer to this question. According to ExM, items of material culture can form part of the material basis for our mental states. Although ExM offers a radical view of the location of mental states, it fits comfortably with a traditional, representationalist account of the nature of those states. I argue that proponents of ExM would (...) do better to adopt a fictionalist approach to mental states. In so doing, I suggest, they could retain the important insights underlying the extended mind thesis, while avoiding its more problematic consequences. (shrink)
Rational beliefs and actions are typically evaluated against certain benchmarks, e.g., those of classical logic or probability theory. Rationality therefore is traditionally taken to involve some sort of reasoning, which in turn implies contentful cognition. Radically Enactive views of Cognition, on the other hand, claim that not all cognition is contentful. In order to show that rationality does not need to lie outside of REC’s scope of radicalizing cognition, I develop a Radically Enactive notion of Rationality, according to which rationality (...) is embodied, situated and contentless. For RER, an organism acts rationally insofar as it sustains a proficient interaction with its environment, which in turn requires the coordination of cognitive abilities in accordance with environmental constraints. Rationality is thus distinguished from reasoning, for reasoning is understood as a capacity to coordinate representational cognitive abilities. (shrink)
One of the key concepts of naturalized epistemology as well as the cognitive sciences that stem from it is the naturalized concept of mental representation. Within this naturalized concept, many attempts have been made to unify the notion of representation error. This text makes an attempt to argue against the adequacy of using a naturalized concept of representation error as well as casts doubt on the wide program of naturalizing concepts related to human conceptuality.
Qu'est-ce que la pensée? La pensée est-elle une activité? La pensée a-t-elle un lieu qui lui est propre? Pense-t-on en mots ou en images? Peut-on penser sans langage? Existe-t-il des normes de la pensée? Commentaire : "La pensée et la représentation" - Antoine Arnauld - Des vraies et des fausses idées. chapitre VI. "Rationalité et pensée" -Gilbert Ryle - "A rational animal n. Collected Papers II.
In the present article, I attempt to relate Saul Kripke's “sceptical paradox” to some issues about the self; specifically, the relation between the self and its mental states and episodes. I start with a brief reconstruction of the paradox, and venture to argue that it relies crucially on a Cartesian model of the self: the sceptic regards the Wittgensteinian “infinite regress of interpretation” as the foundation of his challenge, and this is where he commits the crucial mistake. After the diagnosis, (...) I attempt to sketch my own model of the self and its mental states and episodes. This tentative picture binds meaning and the self together, stressing the subjective aspect of meaning without committing the same fallacy. The solution ventured here is relatively independent of the secondary literatures on the sceptical paradox of following rules, for it aims to provide a new angle to understand and meet the challenge presented by the sceptic. (shrink)
In the target article Hutto and Satne propose a new approach to studying mental content. Although I believe there is much to commend in their proposal, I argue that it makes no space for a kind of content that is of central importance to cognitive science, and which need not be involved in beliefs and desires: I will use the expression ‘representational content’ to refer to it. Neglecting representational content leads to an undue limitation of the contribution that the neo-Cartesian (...) approach can offer to the naturalising content project. I claim that neo-Cartesians can, on the one hand, help account for the nature of representational content and clarify what makes representational states contentful. On the other, besides explaining the natural origins of Ur-intentionality, neo-Cartesians should also take the role of accounting for the natural origins of contentful states that fall short of beliefs and desires. Finally, I argue that the only alternative for the authors is to embrace some form of non-representationalism, as Hutto elsewhere does. The success of the proposal thereby turns on the fate of the radical non-representationalist position that it accompanies. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that even if the Hard Problem of Content, as identified by Hutto and Myin, is important, it was already solved in natu- ralized semantics, and satisfactory solutions to the problem do not rely merely on the notion of information as covariance. I point out that Hutto and Myin have double standards for linguistic and mental representation, which leads to a peculiar inconsistency. Were they to apply the same standards to basic and linguistic minds, they would (...) either have to embrace representationalism or turn to semantic nihilism, which is, as I argue, an unstable and unattractive position. Hence, I conclude, their book does not offer an alternative to representation- alism. At the same time, it reminds us that representational talk in cognitive science cannot be taken for granted and that information is different from men- tal representation. Although this claim is not new, Hutto and Myin defend it forcefully and elegantly. (shrink)
A straightforward way of thinking about perception is in terms of perceptual representation. Perception is the construction of perceptual representations that represent the world correctly or incorrectly. This way of thinking about perception has been questioned recently by those who deny that there are perceptual representations. This article examines some reasons for and against the concept of perceptual representation and explores some potential ways of resolving this debate. Then it analyzes what perceptual representations may be: if they attribute properties to (...) entities, what are these attributed properties, and what are the entities they are attributed to. (shrink)
In this review of Hutto and Myin's Radicalizing Enactivism, I question the adequacy of a non-representational theory of mind. I argue first that such a theory cannot differentiate cognition from other bodily engagements such as wrestling with an opponent. Second, I question whether the simple robots constructed by Rodney Brooks are adequate as models of multimodal organisms. Last, I argue that Hutto and Myin pay very little attention to how semantically interacting representations are needed to give an account of choice (...) and action. (shrink)
Existential phenomenologists hold that the two most basic forms of intelligent behavior, learning, and skillful action, can be described and explained without recourse to mind or brain representations. This claim is expressed in two central notions in Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception: the intentional arc and the tendency to achieve a maximal grip. The intentional arc names the tight connection between body and world, such that, as the active body acquires skills, those skills are “stored”, not as representations in the mind, (...) but as dispositions to respond to the solicitations of situations in the world. A phenomenology of skill acquisition confirms that, as one acquires expertise, the acquired know-how is experienced as finer and finer discriminations of situations paired with the appropriate response to each. Maximal grip names the body's tendency to refine its responses so as to bring the current situation closer to an optimal gestalt. Thus, successful learning and action do not require propositional mental representations. They do not require semantically interpretable brain representations either.Simulated neural networks exhibit crucial structural features of the intentional arc, and Walter Freeman's account of the brain dynamics underlying perception and action is structurally isomorphic with Merleau-Ponty's account of the way a skilled agent is led by the situation to move towards obtaining a maximal grip. (shrink)
In this reply we claim that, contra Dreyfus, the kinds of skillful performances Dreyfus discusses _are_ representational. We explain this proposal, and then defend it against an objection to the effect that the representational notion we invoke is a weak one countenancing only some global state of an organism as a representation. According to this objection, such a representation is not a robust, projectible property of an organism, and hence will gain no explana- tory leverage in cognitive scientific explanations. We (...) argue on conceptual and empirical grounds that the representations we have identified are not weak unprojectible global states of organisms, but instead genuinely explanatory representational parts of persons. (shrink)
I argue that there are no mental representations, in the sense of “representation” used in standard computational theories of the mind. I take Cummins' Meaning and Mental Representation as my stalking-horse, and argue that his view, once properly developed, is self-defeating. The argument implicitly undermines Fodor's view of the mind; I draw that conclusion out explicitly. The idea of mental representations can then only be saved by appeal to a Dennett-like instrumentalism; so I argue against that too. Finally, I argue (...) that there is no good metaphysical reason in favour of believing in mental representations and that cognitive science can manage perfectly well without them. (shrink)
This is a comment on Frances Egan's paper, "How to Think About Mental Content." Egan distinguishes mathematical and cognitive content; she accepts the former and rejects the latter. In this comment, which was delivered at the Oberlin Colloquium in 2012, I defend cognitive content.