Representation and dynamics

Philosophical Psychology 23 (6):759-773 (2010)
In the last decade several prominent critics have charged that invocation of representations is not only not essential for cognitive science, but should be avoided. These claims have been followed by counterarguments demonstrating that the notion certainly is important in explanations of cognitive phenomena. Analyzing some important contributions to the debate, Anthony Chemero has argued that representationalists still need to explain the significance of the notion once there is an available formal account of a system and has, accordingly, challenged representationalists to provide such an explanation. This paper's first part explains why the representationalist should take an interest in Chemero's challenge. It discusses William Bechtel 's account of the representational structure of the Watt Governor, which, among other things, was motivating Chemero to question the relevance of a representational account once a dynamical one is available. The second part contains the answer to Chemero's challenge. It is motivated by the thought that only a representational account of the Watt Governor with a comparable level of detail could possibly add explanatory value to a dynamical account. However, accepting the account also means that it becomes difficult to understand dynamical and representational accounts as rivals. Instead, it would be more adequate to speak of a dynamical account of the representational structure
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DOI 10.1080/09515089.2010.529045
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