Are there distinct roles for intention and motor representation in explaining the purposiveness of action? Standard accounts of action assign a role to intention but are silent on motor representation. The temptation is to suppose that nothing need be said here because motor representation is either only an enabling condition for purposive action or else merely a variety of intention. This paper provides reasons for resisting that temptation. Some motor representations, like intentions, coordinate actions in virtue of (...) representing outcomes; but, unlike intentions, motor representations cannot feature as premises or conclusions in practical reasoning. This implies that motor representation has a distinctive role in explaining the purposiveness of action. It also gives rise to a problem: were the roles of intention and motor representation entirely independent, this would impair effective action. It is therefore necessary to explain how intentions interlock with motor representations. The solution, we argue, is to recognise that the contents of intentions can be partially determined by the contents of motor representations. Understanding this content-determining relation enables better understanding how intentions relate to actions. (shrink)
Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) are online tools designed to help citizens decide how to vote. They typically offer their users a representation of what is at stake in an election by matching user preferences on issues with those of parties or candidates. While the use of VAAs has boomed in recent years in both established and new democracies, this new phenomenon in the electoral landscape has received little attention from political theorists. The current academic debate is focused on epistemic (...) aspects of the question how a VAA can adequately represent electoral politics. We argue that conceptual and normative presuppositions at play in the background of the tool are at least as important. Even a well-developed VAA does not simply reflect what is at stake in the election by neutrally passing along information. Rather, it structures political information in a way that is informed by the developers’ presuppositions. Yet, these presuppositions remain hidden if we interpret the tool as a mirror that offers the user a reflection of him/herself situated within the political landscape. VAAs should therefore be understood as electoral dioramas, staged according to a contestable picture of politics. (shrink)
Thinking about space is thinking about spatial things. The table is on the carpet; hence the carpet is under the table. The vase is in the box; hence the box is not in the vase. But what does it mean for an object to be somewhere? How are objects tied to the space they occupy? This book is concerned with these and other fundamental issues in the philosophy of spatial representation. Our starting point is an analysis of the interplay (...) between mereology (the study of part/whole relations), topology (the study of spatial continuity and compactness), and the theory of spatial location proper. This leads to a unified framework for spatial representation understood quite broadly as a theory of the representation of spatial entities. The framework is then tested against some classical metaphysical questions such as: Are parts essential to their wholes? Is spatial colocation a sufficient criterion of identity? What (if anything) distinguishes material objects from events and other spatial entities? The concluding chapters deal with applications to topics as diverse as the logical analysis of movement and the semantics of maps. (shrink)
Haugeland doesn’t have what I would call a theory of mental representation. Indeed, it isn’t clear that he believes there is such a thing. But he does have a theory of intentionality and a correlative theory of objectivity, and it is this material that I will be discussing in what follows. It will facilitate the discussion that follows to have at hand some distinctions and accompanying terminology I introduced in Representations, Targets and Attitudes (Cummins, 1996; RTA hereafter). Couching the (...) discussion in these terms will, I hope, help to identify points of agreement and disagreement between Haugaland and myself. In RTA, I distinguished between the target a representation has on a given occasion of its application, and its content. RTA takes representation deployment to be the business of intenders: mechanisms whose business it is to represent some particular class of targets. Thus, on standard stories about speech perception, there is a mechanism (called a parser) whose business it is to represent the phrase structure of the linguistic input currently being processed. When this intender passes a representation R to the consumers of its products, those consumers will take R to be a representation of the phrase structure of the current input. There is no explicit vocabulary to mark the target-content distinction in ordinary language. Expressions like "what I referred to," "what I meant," and the like, are ambiguous. Sometimes they mean targets, sometimes contents. Consider the following dialogue. (shrink)
I argue against theories that attempt to reduce scientific representation to similarity or isomorphism. These reductive theories aim to radically naturalize the notion of representation, since they treat scientist's purposes and intentions as non-essential to representation. I distinguish between the means and the constituents of representation, and I argue that similarity and isomorphism are common but not universal means of representation. I then present four other arguments to show that similarity and isomorphism are not the (...) constituents of scientific representation. I finish by looking at the prospects for weakened versions of these theories, and I argue that only those that abandon the aim to radically naturalize scientific representation are likely to be successful. (shrink)
The recent discussion on scientific representation has focused on models and their relationship to the real world. It has been assumed that models give us knowledge because they represent their supposed real target systems. However, here agreement among philosophers of science has tended to end as they have presented widely different views on how representation should be understood. I will argue that the traditional representational approach is too limiting as regards the epistemic value of modelling given the focus (...) on the relationship between a single model and its supposed target system, and the neglect of the actual representational means with which scientists construct models. I therefore suggest an alternative account of models as epistemic tools. This amounts to regarding them as concrete artefacts that are built by specific representational means and are constrained by their design in such a way that they facilitate the study of certain scientific questions, and learning from them by means of construction and manipulation. (shrink)
This paper examines visual representation from a distinctive, interdisciplinary perspective that draws on ethics, visual studies and critical race theory. Suggests ways to clarify complex issues of representational ethics in marketing communications and marketing representations, suggesting an analysis that makes identity creation central to societal marketing concerns. Analyzes representations of the exotic Other in disparate marketing campaigns, drawing upon tourist promotions, advertisements, and mundane objects in material culture. Moreover, music is an important force in marketing communication: visual representations in (...) music promotions are also explored as data for inquiry. Offers an alternative to phenomenologically based approaches in marketing and consumer research scholarship that use consumer responses to generate data. Contributes additional insight into societal marketing and places global marketing processes within the intersection of ethics, aesthetics and representation. (shrink)
Human agents draw a variety of inferences effortlessly, spontaneously, and with remarkable efficiency – as though these inferences were a reflexive response of their cognitive apparatus. Furthermore, these inferences are drawn with reference to a large body of background knowledge. This remarkable human ability seems paradoxical given the complexity of reasoning reported by researchers in artificial intelligence. It also poses a challenge for cognitive science and computational neuroscience: How can a system of simple and slow neuronlike elements represent a large (...) body of systemic knowledge and perform a range of inferences with such speed? We describe a computational model that takes a step toward addressing the cognitive science challenge and resolving the artificial intelligence paradox. We show how a connectionist network can encode millions of facts and rules involving n-ary predicates and variables and perform a class of inferences in a few hundred milliseconds. Efficient reasoning requires the rapid representation and propagation of dynamic bindings. Our model (which we refer to as SHRUTI) achieves this by representing (1) dynamic bindings as the synchronous firing of appropriate nodes, (2) rules as interconnection patterns that direct the propagation of rhythmic activity, and (3) long-term facts as temporal pattern-matching subnetworks. The model is consistent with recent neurophysiological evidence that synchronous activity occurs in the brain and may play a representational role in neural information processing. The model also makes specific psychologically significant predictions about the nature of reflexive reasoning. It identifies constraints on the form of rules that may participate in such reasoning and relates the capacity of the working memory underlying reflexive reasoning to biological parameters such as the lowest frequency at which nodes can sustain synchronous oscillations and the coarseness of synchronization. (shrink)
It is a live possibility that certain of our experiences reliably misrepresent the world around us. I argue that tracking theories of mental representation have difficulty allowing for this possibility, and that this is a major consideration against them.
Neuropsychological findings used to motivate the "two visual systems" hypothesis have been taken to endanger a pair of widely accepted claims about spatial representation in conscious visual experience. The first is the claim that visual experience represents 3-D space around the perceiver using an egocentric frame of reference. The second is the claim that there is a constitutive link between the spatial contents of visual experience and the perceiver's bodily actions. In this paper, I review and assess three main (...) sources of evidence for the two visual systems hypothesis. I argue that the best interpretation of the evidence is in fact consistent with both claims. I conclude with some brief remarks on the relation between visual consciousness and rational agency. (shrink)
This dissertation argues that mental representation is identical to phenomenal consciousness, and everything else that appears to be both mental and a matter of representation is not genuine mental representation, but either in some way derived from mental representation, or a case of non-mental representation.
During the last decades, many cognitive architectures (CAs) have been realized adopting different assumptions about the organization and the representation of their knowledge level. Some of them (e.g. SOAR ) adopt a classical symbolic approach, some (e.g. LEABRA[ 48]) are based on a purely connectionist model, while others (e.g. CLARION ) adopt a hybrid approach combining connectionist and symbolic representational levels. Additionally, some attempts (e.g. biSOAR) trying to extend the representational capacities of CAs by integrating diagrammatical representations and reasoning (...) are also available . In this paper we propose a reflection on the role that Conceptual Spaces, a framework developed by Peter G¨ardenfors  more than fifteen years ago, can play in the current development of the Knowledge Level in Cognitive Systems and Architectures. In particular, we claim that Conceptual Spaces offer a lingua franca that allows to unify and generalize many aspects of the symbolic, sub-symbolic and diagrammatic approaches (by overcoming some of their typical problems) and to integrate them on a common ground. In doing so we extend and detail some of the arguments explored by G¨ardenfors  for defending the need of a conceptual, intermediate, representation level between the symbolic and the sub-symbolic one. In particular we focus on the advantages offered by Conceptual Spaces (w.r.t. symbolic and sub-symbolic approaches) in dealing with the problem of compositionality of representations based on typicality traits. Additionally, we argue that Conceptual Spaces could offer a unifying framework for interpreting many kinds of diagrammatic and analogical representations. As a consequence, their adoption could also favor the integration of diagrammatical representation and reasoning in CAs. (shrink)
The computational paradigm, which has dominated psychology and artificial intelligence since the cognitive revolution, has been a source of intense debate. Recently, several cognitive scientists have argued against this paradigm, not by objecting to computation, but rather by objecting to the notion of representation. Our analysis of these objections reveals that it is not the notion of representation per se that is causing the problem, but rather specific properties of representations as they are used in various psychological theories. (...) Our analysis suggests that all theorists accept the idea that cognitive processing involves internal information-carrying states that mediate cognitive processing. These mediating states are a superordinate category of representations. We discuss five properties that can be added to mediating states and examine their importance in various cognitive models. Finally, three methodological lessons are drawn from our analysis and discussion. (shrink)
I argue for an intentional conception of representation in science that requires bringing scientific agents and their intentions into the picture. So the formula is: Agents (1) intend; (2) to use model, M; (3) to represent a part of the world, W; (4) for some purpose, P. This conception legitimates using similarity as the basic relationship between models and the world. Moreover, since just about anything can be used to represent anything else, there can be no unified ontology of (...) models. This whole approach is further supported by a brief exposition of some recent work in cognitive, or usage-based, linguistics. Finally, with all the above as background, I criticize the recently much discussed idea that claims involving scientific models are really fictions. (shrink)
Is temporal representation constitutively necessary for perception? Tyler Burge (2010) argues that it is, in part because perception requires a form of memory sufficiently sophisticated as to require temporal representation. I critically discuss Burge’s argument, maintaining that it does not succeed. I conclude by reflecting on the consequences for the origins of temporal representation.
The sense of embodiment is vital for self recognition. An examination of anosognosia for hemiplegia—the inability to recognise that one is paralysed down one side of one’s body—suggests the existence of ‘online’ and ‘offline’ representations of the body. Online representations of the body are representations of the body as it is currently, are newly constructed moment by moment and are directly “plugged into” current perception of the body. In contrast, offline representations of the body are representations of what the body (...) is usually like, are relatively stable and are constructed from online representations. This distinction is supported by an analysis of phantom limb—the feeling that an amputated limb is still present—phenomena. Initially it seems that the sense of embodiment may arise from either of these types of representation; however, an integrated representation of the body seems to be required. It is suggested information from vision and emotions is involved in generating these representations. A lack of access to online representations of the body does not necessarily lead to a loss in the sense of embodiment. An integrated offline representation of the body could account for the sense of embodiment and perform the functions attributed to this sense. (shrink)
In this paper, I characterize visual epistemic representations as concrete two- or three-dimensional tools for conveying information about aspects of their target systems or phenomena of interest. I outline two features of successful visual epistemic representation: that the vehicle of representation contain sufficiently accurate information about the phenomenon of interest for the user’s purpose, and that it convey this information to the user in a manner that makes it readily available to her. I argue that actual epistemic (...) class='Hi'>representation may involve tradeoffs between these and is successful to the extent that they are present. (shrink)
In this paper, I take scientific models to be epistemic representations of their target systems. I define an epistemic representation to be a tool for gaining information about its target system and argue that a vehicle’s capacity to provide specific information about its target system—its informativeness—is an essential feature of this kind of representation. I draw an analogy to our ordinary notion of interpretation to show that a user’s aim of faithfully representing the target system is necessary for (...) securing this feature. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to defend the structural concept of representation, as defined by homomorphisms, against its main objections, namely: logical objections, the objection from misrepresentation, theobjection from failing necessity, and the copy theory objection. The logical objections can be met by reserving the relation.
According to the phenomenal intentionality research program, a state’s intentional content is fixed by its phenomenal character. Defenders of this view have little to say about just how this grounding is accomplished. I argue that without a robust account of representation, the research program promises too little. Unfortunately, most of the well-developed accounts of representation – asymmetric dependence, teleosemantics, and the like – ground representation in external relations such as causation. Such accounts are inconsistent with the core (...) of the phenomenal intentionality program. I argue that, however counter-intuitive it may seem, the best prospect for explaining how phenomenal character represents appeals to resemblance. (shrink)
b>: In this article I outline, apply, and defend a theory of natural representation. The main consequences of this theory are: i) representational status is a matter of how physical entities are used, and specifically is not a matter of causation, nomic relations with the intentional object, or information; ii) there are genuine (brain-)internal representations; iii) such representations are really representations, and not just farcical pseudo-representations, such as attractors, principal components, state-space partitions, or what-have-you;and iv) the theory allows us (...) to sharply distinguish those complex behaviors which are genuinely cognitive from those which are merely complex and adaptive. (shrink)
It is proposed to conceive of representation as an emergent phenomenon that is supervenient on patterns of activity of coarsely tuned and highly redundant feature detectors. The computational underpinnings of the outlined concept of representation are (1) the properties of collections of overlapping graded receptive fields, as in the biological perceptual systems that exhibit hyperacuity-level performance, and (2) the sufficiency of a set of proximal distances between stimulus representations for the recovery of the corresponding distal contrasts between stimuli, (...) as in multidimensional scaling. The present preliminary study appears to indicate that this concept of representation is computationally viable, and is compatible with psychological and neurobiological data. (shrink)
There is disagreement over the notion of representation in cognitive science. Many investigators equate representations with symbols, that is, with syntactically defined elements in an internal symbol system. In recent years there have been two challenges to this orthodoxy. First, a number of philosophers, including many outside the symbolist orthodoxy, have argued that "representation" should be understood in its classical sense, as denoting a "stands for" relation between representation and represented. Second, there has been a growing challenge (...) to orthodoxy under the banner of connectionism. Although this connectionist challenge has evoked emotionally-charged rebukes from the symbolist camp, connectionists as a group have not articulated a conception of representation to replace the symbolist view. Nonetheless, most agree on the need for a nonsymbolic notion of representation. This paper advances a "stands for" sense of representation as primary by incorporating it into a general approach to cognitive science consonant with the connectionism. The idea is to marry connectionism to a particular version of functionalism, viz., one that builds its notion of "function" on the similarity between functional analysis in biology and in psychology. It builds on my earlier work adapting and revising Marr's tri-level approach to cognition. My proposal frees Marr's analysis from its moorings in the orthodox symbolic view of representation and allies it with a notion of functional analysis akin to that proposed by Cummins, developed further by Haugeland, and invoked by Millikan and Dretske. Unlike these authors, however, I do not wed representation to a general belief-desire analysis of behavior. Rather, I follow what I take to be the lesson of psychological practice, according to which the investigator does not seek to explain behavior in general but seeks to analyze the cognitive capacities that underlie behavior, such as vision, memory, learning, and linguistic capacities. Accordingly, ascriptions of representational content are made not by working back from belief-desire ascriptions, but in the context of forming psychological models to account for specific cognitive capacities. Because conceptions of representation in cognitive science typically are embedded in a general approach to the study of cognition, arguments for the comparative plausibility of a particular conception of representation must scout these larger frameworks. I therefore begin by characterizing the interlocking set of assumptions that gave life to the orthodox symbolist approach, paying special attention to the complementarity between representation and process that naturally arises from those assumptions. I then consider two versions of an alternative approach to representation: Dretske's and my own. Finally, I urge the merits of the "cognitive capacities" over the "belief-desire" approach to the subject-matter of cognitive science. (shrink)
This article describes a representation-based framework of distributed cognition. This framework considers distributed cognition as a cognitive system whose structures and processes are distributed between internal and external representations, across a group of individuals, and across space and time. The major issue for distributed research, under this framework, are the distribution, transformation, and propagation of information across the components of the distributed cognitive system and how they affect the performance of the system as a whole. To demonstrate the value (...) of this representation-based approach, the framework was used to describe and explain an important, challenging, and controversial issue — the concept of affordance. (shrink)
The concept of representation has become almost inextricably bound to the concept of symbol systems. the concepts is nowhere more prevalent than in descriptions of "internal representations." These representations are thought to occur in an internal symbol system that allows the brain to store and use information. In this paper we explore a different approach to understanding psychological processes, one that retains a commitment to representations and computations but that is not based on the idea that information must be (...) stored and manipulated in symbol systems. In particular, we suggest that the notion of a symbol system as currently understood construes psychological processes in terms of a specific type of computational system, in which a control function "reads," "interprets," and manipulates discrete entities called "symbols." We argue that other types of computational systems may provide a more appropriate characterization of psychological processes. One implication of our argument is the need to consider the constraints placed on computational theories in psychology by the nature of the computing device itself, the human brain. Perhaps surprisingly, this implication leads us to the conclusion that a "functionalist" conception of psychological processes (discussed below) does not entail that physiology is irrelevant to psychology, as has been maintained by prominent adherents of the symbol-systems approach. (shrink)
Making sense of modeling: beyond representation Content Type Journal Article Category Original paper in Philosophy of Science Pages 335-352 DOI 10.1007/s13194-011-0032-8 Authors Isabelle Peschard, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Journal European Journal for Philosophy of Science Online ISSN 1879-4920 Print ISSN 1879-4912 Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 3.
The present paper argues that ‘mature mathematical formalisms’ play a central role in achieving representation via scientific models. A close discussion of two contemporary accounts of how mathematical models apply—the DDI account (according to which representation depends on the successful interplay of denotation, demonstration and interpretation) and the ‘matching model’ account—reveals shortcomings of each, which, it is argued, suggests that scientific representation may be ineliminably heterogeneous in character. In order to achieve a degree of unification that is (...) compatible with successful representation, scientists often rely on the existence of a ‘mature mathematical formalism’, where the latter refers to a—mathematically formulated and physically interpreted—notational system of locally applicable rules that derive from (but need not be reducible to) fundamental theory. As mathematical formalisms undergo a process of elaboration, enrichment, and entrenchment, they come to embody theoretical, ontological, and methodological commitments and assumptions. Since these are enshrined in the formalism itself, they are no longer readily obvious to either the novice or the proficient user. At the same time as formalisms constrain what may be represented, they also function as inferential and interpretative resources. (shrink)
The main thesis of this paper is twofold. In the first half of the paper, (§§1-2), I argue that there are two notions of mental representation, which I call objective and subjective. In the second part (§§3-7), I argue that this casts familiar tracking theories of mental representation as incomplete: while it is clear how they might account for objective representation, they at least require supplementation to account for subjective representation.
Shagrir (2001) and Sprevak (2010) explore the apparent necessity of representation for the individuation of digits (and processors) in computational systems. I will first offer a response to Sprevak’s argument that does not mention Shagrir’s original formulation, which was more complex. I then extend my initial response to cover Shagrir’s argument, thus demonstrating that it is possible to individuate digits in non-representational computing mechanisms. I also consider the implications that the non-representational individuation of digits would have for the broader (...) theory of computing mechanisms. (shrink)
b>: The problem of how physical systems, such as brains, come to represent themselves as subjects in an objective world is addressed. I develop an account of the requirements for this ability that draws on and refines work in a philosophical tradition that runs from Kant through Peter Strawson to Gareth Evans. The basic idea is that the ability to represent oneself as a subject in a world whose existence is independent of oneself involves the ability to represent space, and (...) in particular, to represent oneself as one object among others in an objective spatial realm. In parallel, I provide an account of how this ability, and the mechanisms that support it, are realized neurobiologically. This aspect of the article draws on, and refines, work done in the neurobiology and psychology of egocentric and allocentric spatial representation. (shrink)
Why does female under- representation emerge during undergraduate education? At the University of Sydney, we surveyed students before and after their first philosophy course. We failed to find any evidence that this course disproportionately discouraged female students from continuing in philosophy relative to male students. Instead, we found evidence of an interaction effect between gender and existing attitudes about philosophy coming into tertiary education that appears at least partially responsible for this poor retention. At the first lecture, disproportionately few (...) female students intended to major. Further, at the first lecture, female students were less interested in philosophy, were less self-confident about philosophy, and were less able to imagine themselves as philosophers. Similarly, female students predicted they would feel more uncomfortable in philosophy classes than male students did. Further study with a control is warranted to determine whether this interaction effect is peculiar to philosophy, or whether it is indicative of a more general gendered trend amongst first year undergraduate students. (shrink)
Some regularities enjoy only an attenuated existence in a body of training data. These are regularities whose statistical visibility depends on some systematic recoding of the data. The space of possible recodings is, however, infinitely large type-2 problems. they are standardly solved! This presents a puzzle. How, given the statistical intractability of these type-2 cases, does nature turn the trick? One answer, which we do not pursue, is to suppose that evolution gifts us with exactly the right set of recoding (...) biases so as to reduce specific type-2 problems to (tractable) type-1 mappings. Such a heavy-duty nativism is no doubt sometimes plausible. But we believe there are other, more general mechanisms also at work. Such mechanisms provide general (not task-specific) strategies for managing problems of type-2 complexity. Several such mechanisms are investigated. At the heart of each is a fundamental ploy representational redescription language and culture – may themselves be viewed as adaptations enabling this representation/computation trade-off to be pursued on an even grander scale. (shrink)
Concept representation is still an open problem in the field of ontology engineering and, more generally, of knowledge representation. In particular, the issue of representing “non classical” concepts, i.e. concepts that cannot be defined in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions, remains unresolved. In this paper we review empirical evidence from cognitive psychology, according to which concept representation is not a unitary phenomenon. On this basis, we sketch some proposals for concept representation, taking into account suggestions (...) from psychological research. In particular, it seems that human beings employ both prototype-based and exemplar-based representations in order to represent non classical concepts. We suggest that a similar, hybrid prototype-exemplar based approach could also prove useful in the field of knowledge representation technology. Finally, we propose conceptual spaces as a suitable framework for developing some aspects of this proposal. (shrink)
In modern, Western societies the purpose of schooling is to ensure that school-goers acquire knowledge of pre-existing practices, events, entities and so on. The knowledge that is learned is then tested to see if the learner has acquired a correct or adequate understanding of it. For this reason, it can be argued that schooling is organised around a representational epistemology: one which holds that knowledge is an accurate representation of something that is separate from knowledge itself. Since the object (...) of knowledge is assumed to exist separately from the knowledge itself, this epistemology can also be considered ‘spatial.’ In this paper we show how ideas from complexity have challenged the spatial epistemology’ of representation and we explore possibilities for an alternative ‘temporal’ understanding of knowledge in its relationship to reality. In addition to complexity, our alternative takes its inspiration from Deweyan ‘transactional realism’ and deconstruction. We suggest that ‘knowledge’ and ‘reality’ should not be understood as separate systems which somehow have to be brought into alignment with each other, but that they are part of the same emerging complex system which is never fully ‘present’ in any (discrete) moment in time. This not only introduces the notion of time into our understanding of the relationship between knowledge and reality, but also points to the importance of acknowledging the role of the ‘unrepresentable’ or ‘incalculable’. With this understanding knowledge reaches us not as something we receive but as a response, which brings forth new worlds because it necessarily adds something (which was not present anywhere before it appeared) to what came before. This understanding of knowledge suggests that the acquisition of curricular content should not be considered an end in itself. Rather, curricular content should be used to bring forth that which is incalculable from the perspective of the present. The epistemology of emergence therefore calls for a switch in focus for curricular thinking, away from questions about presentation and representation and towards questions about engagement and response. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss one of the key issuesin the philosophy of neuroscience:neurosemantics. The project of neurosemanticsinvolves explaining what it means for states ofneurons and neural systems to haverepresentational contents. Neurosemantics thusinvolves issues of common concern between thephilosophy of neuroscience and philosophy ofmind. I discuss a problem that arises foraccounts of representational content that Icall ``the economy problem'': the problem ofshowing that a candidate theory of mentalrepresentation can bear the work requiredwithin in the causal economy of a mind and (...) anorganism. My approach in the current paper isto explore this and other key themes inneurosemantics through the use of computermodels of neural networks embodied and evolvedin virtual organisms. The models allow for thelaying bare of the causal economies of entireyet simple artificial organisms so that therelations between the neural bases of, forinstance, representation in perception andmemory can be regarded in the context of anentire organism. On the basis of thesesimulations, I argue for an account ofneurosemantics adequate for the solution of theeconomy problem. (shrink)
Humans and other animals are able not only to coordinate their actions with their current sensorimotor state, but also to imagine, plan and act in view of the future, and to realize distal goals. In this paper we discuss whether or not their future-oriented conducts imply (future-oriented) representations. We illustrate the role played by anticipatory mechanisms in natural and artificial agents, and we propose a notion of representation that is grounded in the agent’s predictive capabilities. Therefore, we argue that (...) the ability that characterizes and defines a true cognitive mind, as opposed to a merely adaptive system, is that of building representations of the non-existent, of what is not currently (yet) true or perceivable, of what is desired. A real mental activity begins when the organism is able to endogenously (i.e. not as the consequence of current perceptual stimuli) produce an internal representation of the world in order to select and guide its conduct goal-directed: the mind serves to coordinate with the future. (shrink)
It is a truism among ethologists that one must not forget that animals perceive and represent the world differently from humans. Sometimes this caution is phrased in terms of von Uexküll’s Umwelt concept. Yet it seems possible (perhaps even unavoidable) to adopt a common ontological framework when comparing different species of mind. For some purposes it seems sufficient to anchor comparative cognition in common-sense categories; bats echolocate insects (or a subset of them) after all. But for other purposes it seems (...) necessary to find out more about how organisms organize their perceptions into biologically significant and perhaps cognitively meaningful states. Complex animals have high bandwidth sensory channels that feed into large nerve networks with very complex dynamics. Even for relatively simple animals belonging to species believed to have a small, fixed number of neurons, the odds are very much against any two animals of the same species, let alone different species, having exactly the same couplings to the environment, the same dimensionality in their nervous systems, or the same dynamics. Given such diversity (which von Uexküll himself recognized), how should we think about shared representation, shared meaning, and cognitive similarity between individuals and species? (shrink)
The main task of this paper is to understand if and how static images like photographs can represent and/or depict temporal extension (duration). In order to do this, a detour will be necessary to understand some features of the nature of photographic representation and depiction in general. This important detour will enable us to see that photographs (can) have a narrative content, and that the skilled photographer can 'tell a story' in a very clear sense, as well as control (...) and guide the attention of the spectator of the photograph. The understanding and defence of this claim is a secondary aim of this paper, and it will then allow us to provide a good treatment of the particular case of photographic representation and depiction of temporal extension. (shrink)
The notion of scientific representation plays a central role in current debates on modeling in the sciences. One or maybe the major epistemic virtue of successful models is their capacity to adequately represent specific phenomena or target systems. According to similarity views of scientific representation, models should be similar to their corresponding targets in order to represent them. In this paper, Suárez’s arguments against similarity views of representation will be scrutinized. The upshot is that the intuition that (...) scientific representation involves similarity is not refuted by the arguments. The arguments do not make the case for the strong claim that similarity between vehicles and targets is neither necessary nor sufficient for scientific representation. Especially, one claim that a similarity view wants to uphold, still, is the following thesis: only if a vehicle is similar to a target in relevant respects and to a specific degree of similarity then the vehicle is a scientific representation of that target. (shrink)
Intelligent systems are faced with the problem of securing a principled (ideally, veridical) relationship between the world and its internal representation. I propose a unified approach to visual representation, addressing both the needs of superordinate and basic-level categorization and of identification of specific instances of familiar categories. According to the proposed theory, a shape is represented by its similarity to a number of reference shapes, measured in a high-dimensional space of elementary features. This amounts to embedding the stimulus (...) in a low-dimensional proximal shape space. That space turns out to support representation of distal shape similarities which is veridical in the sense of Shepard's (1968) notion of second-order isomorphism (i.e., correspondence between distal and proximal similarities among shapes, rather than between distal shapes and their proximal representations). Furthermore, a general expression for similarity between two stimuli, based on comparisons to reference shapes, can be used to derive models of perceived similarity ranging from continuous, symmetric, and hierarchical, as in the multidimensional scaling models (Shepard, 1980), to discrete and non-hierarchical, as in the general contrast models (Tversky, 1977; Shepard and Arabie, 1979). (shrink)
In this paper, I argue for three claims. The first is that the difference between analog and digital representation lies in the format and not the medium of representation. The second is that whether a given system is analog or digital will sometimes depend on facts about the user of that system. The third is that the first two claims are implicit in Haugeland's (1998) account of the distinction.
This study examines the relationship between thought and language by considering the views of Kant and the later Wittgenstein along with many strands of contemporary debate in the area of mental content. Building on an analysis of the nature of concepts and conceptions of objects, Gillett provides an account of psychological explanation and the subject of experience, offers a novel perspective on mental representation and linguistic meaning, looks at the difficult topics of cognitive roles and singular thought, and concludes (...) with an outline of certain considerations relevant to skeptical arguments and the nature of perception. The resulting synthesis demonstrates interesting correlations with current work in cognitive and developmental psychology, and is directly relevant to continuing work in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophical psychology. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to consider whether some seats in a democratically elected legislative assembly ought to be reserved for representatives of future generations. In order to examine this question, I will propose a new democratic model for representing posterity. It is argued that this model has several advantages compared with a model for the democratic representation of future people previously suggested by Andrew Dobson. Nevertheless, the democratic model that I propose confronts at least two difficult problems. (...) First, it faces insoluble problems of representative legitimacy. Second, one might question whether this model provides a reasonably effective way to represent future interests compared with existing representative democratic institutions. Despite such problems, it is argued that political representation of posterity can be defended on the basis of fundamental ideas and ideals in recent theory of deliberative democracy. The first reason for this is that in a number of cases democratic decisions cannot be regarded as normatively legitimate from the point of view of deliberative democracy, unless posterity is given a voice. The second reason is that representation of posterity can contribute to more rational and impartial deliberations and decisions in legislative assemblies. (shrink)
The question of whether cognition requires representations has engendered heated discussion during the last two decades. I shall argue that the question is, in all likelihood, a spurious one. There may or may not be a fact of the matter concerning whether a given item qualifies as a representation. However, even if there is, attempts to establish whether cognition requires representation have neither practical nor theoretical utility.
Hume is a naturalist in many different respects and about many different topics; this paper argues that he is also a naturalist about intentionality and representation. It does so in the course of answering four questions about his theory of mental representation: (1) Which perceptions represent? (2) What can perceptions represent? (3) Why do perceptions represent at all? (4) Howdo perceptions represent what they do? It appears that, for Hume, all perceptions except passions can represent; and they can (...) represent bodies, minds, and persons, with their various qualities. In addition, ideas can represent impressions and other ideas. However, he explicitly rejects the view that ideas are inherently representational, and he implicitly adopts a view according to which things (whether mental or non-mental) represent in virtue of playing, through the production of mental effects and dispositions, a significant part of the causal and/or functional role of what they represent. It is in virtue of their particular functional roles that qualitatively identical ideas are capable of representing particulars or general kinds; substances or modes; relations; past, present, or future; and individuals or compounds. (shrink)