Mikio Akagi
Texas Christian University
Many philosophers worry that cognitive scientists apply the concept REPRESENTATION too liberally. For example, William Ramsey argues that scientists often ascribe natural representations according to the “receptor notion,” a causal account with absurd consequences. I rehabilitate the receptor notion by augmenting it with a background condition: that natural representations are ascribed only to systems construed as organisms. This Organism-Receptor account rationalizes our existing conceptual practice, including the fact that scientists in fact reject Ramsey’s absurd consequences. The Organism-Receptor account raises some worrying questions, but as a more faithful characterization of scientific practice it is a better guide to conceptual reform.
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