Mental representations: What philosophy leaves out and neuroscience puts in

Philosophical Psychology 16 (2):189-204 (2003)
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Abstract

This paper investigates how "representation" is actually used in some areas in cognitive neuroscience. It is argued that recent philosophy has largely ignored an important kind of representation that differs in interesting ways from the representations that are standardly recognized in philosophy of mind. This overlooked kind of representation does not represent by having intentional contents; rather members of the kind represent by displaying or instantiating features. The investigation is not simply an ethnographic study of the discourse of neuroscientists. If there are indeed two different kinds of representations, and the non-standard ones are the ones referred to in some areas of cognitive neuroscience, then we will have to give up the idea that appealing to inner representations with intentional contents is the defining distinction between cognitive neuroscience and behaviorist psychology (Montgomery, 1995). Further, if the conclusions of this paper are correct, many general accounts of how neural states represent are either false or theoretically ill-motivated

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