Predictive processing and the representation wars: a victory for the eliminativist

Synthese 195 (12):5115-5139 (2018)

Adrian Downey
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
In this paper I argue that, by combining eliminativist and fictionalist approaches toward the sub-personal representational posits of predictive processing, we arrive at an empirically robust and yet metaphysically innocuous cognitive scientific framework. I begin the paper by providing a non-representational account of the five key posits of predictive processing. Then, I motivate a fictionalist approach toward the remaining indispensable representational posits of predictive processing, and explain how representation can play an epistemologically indispensable role within predictive processing explanations without thereby requiring that representation metaphysically exists. Finally, I outline four consequences of accepting this approach and explain why they are beneficial: we arrive at a victory for metaphysical eliminativism in the ‘representation wars’; my account fits with extant empirical practice; my account provides guidance for future research; and, my account provides the beginnings of a response to Mark Sprevak’s IBE problem for fictionalist approaches toward sub-personal representation.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-017-1442-8
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 43,044
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Language of Thought.Jerry A. Fodor - 1975 - Noûs 14 (1):120-124.
The Intentional Stance.Daniel DENNETT - 1987 - Journal of Philosophy 87 (4):212-216.
The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception.James J. Gibson - 1980 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 39 (2):203-206.

View all 26 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Neural Representations Observed.Eric Thomson & Gualtiero Piccinini - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):191-235.
Self-Knowledge in a Predictive Processing Framework.Lukas Schwengerer - 2019 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (3):563-585.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

What Are the Contents of Representations in Predictive Processing?Wanja Wiese - 2017 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (4):715-736.
Folk Psychology and the Bayesian Brain.Joe Dewhurst - 2017 - In Thomas Metzinger & Wanja Wiese (eds.), Philosophy and Predictive Processing. Frankfurt am Main: MIND Group.
Modularity and the Predictive Mind.Zoe Drayson - 2017 - T. Metzinger and W. Weise, (Eds), Philosophy and Predictive Processing.
Predictive Coding? Yes, but From What Source?Gregory Hickok - 2013 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (4):358-358.
Models as Make-Believe.Adam Toon - 2010 - In Roman Frigg & Matthew Hunter (eds.), Beyond Mimesis and Convention: Representation in Art and Science. Boston Studies in Philosophy of Science.


Added to PP index

Total views
30 ( #281,634 of 2,260,167 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #324,289 of 2,260,167 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature