The embedded view, its critics, and a radically non-representational solution

Synthese 198 (Suppl 1):195-211 (2019)


Whether perception involves the manipulation of representations is currently heavily debated. The embedded view advanced by Nico Orlandi seeks a middle passage between representationalism and radical enactivism. In this paper I argue for a non-representational take on EV. I argue that this is the best way to resolve the objections EV has received from both representationalists and non-representationalists. I analyze this debate, and distinguish four sorts of objections: the objection of the wrongfully cut middleman, the argument against explanatory exclusionism, the case for scientific benefits of representations, and the charge of inconsistent ascription of representational status in EV. I argue that the middleman was never cut in EV, and is controversial to boot, otherwise equal, non-representational explanations have primacy over representational explanations, due to the lack of naturalistic grounds for representations and the unnecessarily ascribed cognitive load to the system. Further, I show that puts the cart before the horse, and the arguments on offer are viciously circular. However, the final objection, lays bare a deeper issue for EV. At the cost of giving up the middle position, however, the explanatory tools already available to EV can be shown to cover the work initially thought to require representation. I conclude that EV is best altered to be a non-representational theory of perception.

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