Mental Representation, "Standing-In-For", and Internal Models

Philosophical Psychology (forthcoming)
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Talk of ”mental representations” is ubiquitous in the philosophy of mind, psychology, and cognitive science. A slogan common to many different approaches says that representations ”stand in for” the things they represent. This slogan also attaches to most talk of "internal models" in cognitive science. We argue that this slogan is either false or uninformative. We then offer a new slogan that aims to do better. The new slogan ties the role of representations to the cognitive role played by the deliverances of perception. After clarifying the new slogan and warding off some misunderstandings, we discuss how the new slogan still captures the seed of truth in the old, point to some specific misunderstandings that can be avoided, and then suggest some ways that the new slogan is useful in the project of giving a satisfying philosophical theory of representation.



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Rosa Cao
Stanford University
Jared Warren
Stanford University

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