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)
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)
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)
Le présent article aborde deux effets de contexte, peu étudiés, sur la représentation du contenu sémantique, en considérant les implications que peuvent avoir ces effets pour la modélisation sémantique. Dans le cas de la sous-minimalité sémantique, le contexte rend même le contenu sémantique minimal redondant pour ce qui est du traitement cognitif réussi d’une expression. Deuxièmement, on aborde la manière dont le contexte de discours influe sur la nature des représentations sémantiques en ligne, en établissant une différence entre le discours (...) planifié et le discours libre en tant que deux contextes différents pour ce qui est de la nature des représentations sémantiques sous-jacentes. En abordant ces deux questions, l’article remet en question l’importance des représentations riches que l’on suppose habituellement dans la sémantique linguistique, et augmente le répertoire des interactions sens-contexte dont il faut rendre compte dans une théorie naturaliste de la compétence sémantique. (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)
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)
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.
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)
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.
We present a new “reason-based” approach to the formal representation of moral theories, drawing on recent decision-theoretic work. We show that any moral theory within a very large class can be represented in terms of two parameters: a specification of which properties of the objects of moral choice matter in any given context, and a specification of how these properties matter. Reason-based representations provide a very general taxonomy of moral theories, as differences among theories can be attributed to differences (...) in their two key parameters. We can thus formalize several distinctions, such as between consequentialist and non-consequentialist theories, between universalist and relativist theories, between agent-neutral and agent-relative theories, between monistic and pluralistic theories, between atomistic and holistic theories, and between theories with a teleological structure and those without. Reason-based representations also shed light on an important but under-appreciated phenomenon: the “underdetermination of moral theory by deontic content”. (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)
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)
José L. Zalabardo puts forward a new interpretation of central ideas in Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus concerning the structure of reality and our representations of it in thought and language. He presents the picture theory of propositional representation as Wittgenstein's solution to the problems that he had found in Bertrand Russell's theories of judgment. Zalabardo then attributes to Wittgenstein the view that facts and propositions are ultimate indivisible units, not the result of combining their constituents. This is Wittgenstein's solution to (...) the problem of the unity of facts and propositions. Finally, Zalabardo shows that Wittgenstein's views on the analysability of everyday propositions as truth functions of elementary propositions arise from his views on the epistemology of logic: this offers a new perspective on the nature of Tractarian analysis. (shrink)
In this article we present an advanced version of Dual-PECCS, a cognitively-inspired knowledge representation and reasoning system aimed at extending the capabilities of artificial systems in conceptual categorization tasks. It combines different sorts of common-sense categorization (prototypical and exemplars-based categorization) with standard monotonic categorization procedures. These different types of inferential procedures are reconciled according to the tenets coming from the dual process theory of reasoning. On the other hand, from a representational perspective, the system relies on the hypothesis of (...) conceptual structures represented as heterogeneous proxytypes. Dual-PECCS has been experimentally assessed in a task of conceptual categorization where a target concept illustrated by a simple common-sense linguistic description had to be identified by resorting to a mix of categorization strategies, and its output has been compared to human responses. The obtained results suggest that our approach can be beneficial to improve the representational and reasoning conceptual capabilities of standard cognitive artificial systems, and –in addition– that it may be plausibly applied to different general computational models of cognition. The current version of the system, in fact, extends our previous work, in that Dual-PECCS is now integrated and tested into two cognitive architectures, ACT-R and CLARION, implementing different assumptions on the underlying invariant structures governing human cognition. Such integration allowed us to extend our previous evaluation. (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.
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)
Sex robots are likely to play an important role in shaping public understandings of sex and of relations between the sexes in the future. This paper contributes to the larger project of understanding how they will do so by examining the ethics of the “rape” of robots. I argue that the design of realistic female robots that could explicitly refuse consent to sex in order to facilitate rape fantasy would be unethical because sex with robots in these circumstances is a (...)representation of the rape of a woman, which may increase the rate of rape, expresses disrespect for women, and demonstrates a significant character defect. Even when the intention is not to facilitate rape, the design of robots that can explicitly refuse consent is problematic due to the likelihood that some users will experiment with raping them. Designing robots that lack the capacity to explicitly refuse consent may be morally problematic depending on which of two accounts of the representational content of sex with realistic humanoid robots is correct. (shrink)
In this article, network science is discussed from a methodological perspective, and two central theses are defended. The first is that network science exploits the very properties that make a system complex. Rather than using idealization techniques to strip those properties away, as is standard practice in other areas of science, network science brings them to the fore, and uses them to furnish new forms of explanation. The second thesis is that network representations are particularly helpful in explaining the properties (...) of non-decomposable systems. Where part-whole decomposition is not possible, network science provides a much-needed alternative method of compressing information about the behavior of complex systems, and does so without succumbing to problems associated with combinatorial explosion. The article concludes with a comparison between the uses of network representation analyzed in the main discussion, and an entirely distinct use of network representation that has recently been discussed in connection with mechanistic modeling. (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.
ABSTRACT Shagrir and Sprevak explore the apparent necessity of representation for the individuation of digits in computational systems.1 1 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. 1 The Received View: No Computation without Representation 2 Computing Mechanisms and Functional Individuation 3 Against Computational Externalism 4 Implications for the Mechanistic Account. (shrink)
The neural vehicles of mental representation play an explanatory role in cognitive psychology that their realizers do not. In this paper, I argue that the individuation of realizers as vehicles of representation restricts the sorts of explanations in which they can participate. I illustrate this with reference to Rupert’s (2011) claim that representational vehicles can play an explanatory role in psychology in virtue of their quantity or proportion. I propose that such quantity-based explanatory claims can apply only to (...) realizers and not to vehicles, in virtue of the particular causal role that vehicles play in psychological explanations. (shrink)
The claim that similarity plays a role in representation has been philosophically discredited. Psychologists, however, routinely analyse the success of mental representations for guiding behaviour in terms of a similarity between representation and the world. I provide a foundation for this practice by developing a philosophically responsible account of the relationship between similarity and representation in natural systems. I analyse similarity in terms of the existence of a suitable homomorphism between two structures. The key insight is that (...) by restricting attention to only those homomorphisms induced by causal processes, we can solve two philosophical problems with a single assumption. First, causal structure provides an adequate source for the bias required to ensure the similarity relation is non-trivial; second, it provides an adequate source for the directionality required to move from similarity to representation. I defend this account against objections by Goodman and van Fraassen and demonstrate that it is indeed the account of similarity’s role in representation assumed by psychological practice. (shrink)
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)
Many philosophers have understood the representational dimension of affective states along the model of sense-perceptual experiences, even claiming the relevant affective experiences are perceptual experiences. This paper argues affective experiences involve a kind of personal level affective representation disanalogous from the representational character of perceptual experiences. The positive thesis is that affective representation is a non-transparent, non-sensory form of evaluative representation, whereby a felt valenced attitude represents the object of the experience as minimally good or bad, and (...) one experiences that evaluative standing as having the power to causally motivate the relevant attitude. I show this view can make sense of distinctive features of affective experiences, such as their valence and connection to value in a way which moves beyond current evaluativist views of affect. (shrink)
This paper engages critically with anti-representationalist arguments pressed by prominent enactivists and their allies. The arguments in question are meant to show that the “as-such” and “job-description” problems constitute insurmountable challenges to causal-informational theories of mental content. In response to these challenges, a positive account of what makes a physical or computational structure a mental representation is proposed; the positive account is inspired partly by Dretske’s views about content and partly by the role of mental representations in contemporary cognitive (...) scientific modeling. (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)
This paper examines Spinoza’s view on the consistency of mental representation. First, I argue that he departs from Scholastic tradition by arguing that all mental states—whether desires, intentions, beliefs, perceptions, entertainings, etc.—must be logically consistent. Second, I argue that his endorsement of this view is motivated by key Spinozistic doctrines, most importantly the doctrine that all acts of thought represent what could follow from God’s nature. Finally, I argue that Spinoza’s view that all mental representation is consistent pushes (...) him to a linguistic account of contradiction. (shrink)
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 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)
It’s a platitude – which only a philosopher would dream of denying – that whereas words are connected to what they represent merely by arbitrary conventions, pictures are connected to what they represent by resemblance. The most important difference between my portrait and my name, for example, is that whereas my portrait and I are connected by my portrait’s resemblance to me, my name and I are connected merely by an arbitrary convention. The first aim of this book is to (...) defend this platitude from the apparently compelling objections raised against it, by analysing depiction in a way which reveals how it is mediated by resemblance. -/- It’s natural to contrast the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance, which emphasises the differences between depictive and descriptive representation, with an extremely close analogy between depiction and description, which emphasises the similarities between depictive and descriptive representation. Whereas the platitude emphasises that the connection between my portrait and me is natural in a way the connection between my name and me is not, the analogy emphasises the contingency of the connection between my portrait and me. Nevertheless, the second aim of this book is to defend an extremely close analogy between depiction and description. -/- The strategy of the book is to argue that the apparently compelling objections raised against the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance are manifestations of more general problems, which are familiar from the philosophy of language. These problems, it argues, can be resolved by answers analogous to their counterparts in the philosophy of language, without rejecting the platitude. So the combination of the platitude that depiction is mediated by resemblance with a close analogy between depiction and description turns out to be a compelling theory of depiction, which combines the virtues of common sense with the insights of its detractors. (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)
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.
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)
Frank Ramsey's ‘Truth and Probability’ sketches a proposal for the empirical measurement of credences, along with a corresponding set of axioms for a representation theorem intended to characterize the preference conditions under which this measurement process is applicable. There are several features of Ramsey's formal system which make it attractive and worth developing. However, in specifying his measurement process and his axioms, Ramsey introduces the notion of an ethically neutral proposition, the assumed existence of which plays a key role (...) throughout Ramsey's system. A number of later representation theorems have also appealed to ethically neutral propositions. The notion of ethical neutrality has often been called into question — in fact, there seem to be good reasons to suppose that no ethically neutral propositions exist. In this paper, I present several new, Ramsey-inspired representation theorems that avoid any appeal to ethical neutrality. These theorems preserve the benefits of Ramsey's system, without paying the cost of ethical neutrality. (shrink)
In this paper a possible general framework for the representation of concepts in cognitive artificial systems and cognitive architectures is proposed. The framework is inspired by the so called proxytype theory of concepts and combines it with the heterogeneity approach to concept representations, according to which concepts do not constitute a unitary phenomenon. The contribution of the paper is twofold: on one hand, it aims at providing a novel theoretical hypothesis for the debate about concepts in cognitive sciences by (...) providing unexplored connections between different theories; on the other hand it is aimed at sketching a computational characterization of the problem of concept representation in cognitively inspired artificial systems and in cognitive architectures. (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 – it is the space of applicable Turing machines. As a result, mappings that pivot on such attenuated regularities cannot, in general, be found by brute-force search. The class of problems that present such mappings we call the class of “type-2 problems.” Type-1 problems, by (...) contrast, present tractable problems of search insofar as the relevant regularities can be found by sampling the input data as originally coded. Type-2 problems, we suggest, present neither rare nor pathological cases. They are rife in biologically realistic settings and in domains ranging from simple animat behaviors to language acquisition. Not only are such problems rife – 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 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 strategies for managing problems of type-2 complexity. Several such mechanisms are investigated. At the heart of each is a fundamental ploy – namely, the maximal exploitation of states of representation already achieved by prior, simpler learning so as to reduce the amount of subsequent computational search. Such exploitation both characterizes and helps make unitary sense of a diverse range of mechanisms. These include simple incremental learning, modular connectionism, and the developmental hypothesis of “representational redescription”. In addition, the most distinctive features of human cognition – language and culture – may themselves be viewed as adaptations enabling this representation/computation trade-off to be pursued on an even grander scale. (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)
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)
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)
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.
Spatial Representation presents original, specially written essays by leading psychologists and philosophers on a fascinating set of topics at the intersection of these two disciplines. They address such questions as these: Do the extraordinary navigational abilities of birds mean that these birds have the same kind of grip on the idea of a spatial world as we do? Is there a difference between the way sighted and blind subjects represent the world 'out there'? Does the study of brain-injured subjects, (...) such as 'blind seers', tell us anything about the working of normal spatial consciousness? -/- The essays are arranged into five sections, each of which reflects a central area of research into spatial cognition, and opens with a short introduction by the editors, designed to facilitate cross-disciplinary reading. The volume as a whole offers a rich and compelling expression of the view that to advance our understanding of the way we represent the external world it is necessary to draw on both philosophical and psychological approaches. (shrink)
The concept of innateness is used to make inferences between various better-understood properties, like developmental canalization, evolutionary adaptation, heritability, species-typicality, and so on (‘innateness-related properties’). This article uses a recently-developed account of the representational content carried by inheritance systems like the genome to explain why innateness-related properties cluster together, especially in non-human organisms. Although inferences between innateness-related properties are deductively invalid, and lead to false conclusions in many actual cases, where some aspect of a phenotypic trait develops in reliance on (...) a genetic representation it will tend, better than chance, to have many of the innateness-related properties. The account also shows why inferences between innateness-related properties sometimes fail and argues that such inferences are especially misleading when applied to human psychology and behaviour because human psychological development is especially reliant on non-genetic inherited representations. (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)
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)
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)
This paper investigates the prospects of Rodney Brooks’ proposal for AI without representation. It turns out that the supposedly characteristic features of “new AI” (embodiment, situatedness, absence of reasoning, and absence of representation) are all present in conventional systems: “New AI” is just like old AI. Brooks proposal boils down to the architectural rejection of central control in intelligent agents—Which, however, turns out to be crucial. Some of more recent cognitive science suggests that we might do well to (...) dispose of the image of intelligent agents as central representation processors. If this paradigm shift is achieved, Brooks’ proposal for cognition without representation appears promising for full-blown intelligent agents—Though not for conscious agents. (shrink)