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Representation reconsidered: Book review

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Some books are just begging to be written. This is one such. It gives a long overdue

    critical look at the nearly universal tendency to invoke the notion of ‘‘representation’’

    as a theoretical posit in certain branches of the cognitive sciences, e.g., psychology

    and neuroscience. As the preface and opening chapter make clear, Ramsey’s project

    is to ask, from the vantage point of philosophy of science, whether positing

    representations has the sort of explanatory value it is generally imagined to have.

    His principal focus is to determine if the explanatory posits that are in fact employed

    by these sciences meet the minimal criteria for doing bona fide representational work.

    As he puts it, the question is whether or not such proposals meet the ‘‘job description

    challenge.’’ Adequately meeting that challenge requires saying not only what

    determines the content of a state or structure but also, critically, saying how that state

    or structure serves or functions as a representation in a larger system. Ramsey’s

    assessment is that when the notion of representation is invoked in an important class

    of cases this challenge cannot be met. However, he claims (chapter 3) that there are,

    at least, two prominent uses of the notion in the classical framework of cognitive

    science that are exceptions to this rule. Nevertheless, even these uses—so he argues—

    are at odds in important ways with the standard (folk psychological) interpretation

    of what being a representation amounts to (chapter 2).

Publication Date


  • 2011

Citation


  • Hutto, D. (2011). Representation reconsidered: Book review. Philosophical Psychology, 24 (1), 135-139.

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/715

Number Of Pages


  • 4

Start Page


  • 135

End Page


  • 139

Volume


  • 24

Issue


  • 1

Abstract


  • Some books are just begging to be written. This is one such. It gives a long overdue

    critical look at the nearly universal tendency to invoke the notion of ‘‘representation’’

    as a theoretical posit in certain branches of the cognitive sciences, e.g., psychology

    and neuroscience. As the preface and opening chapter make clear, Ramsey’s project

    is to ask, from the vantage point of philosophy of science, whether positing

    representations has the sort of explanatory value it is generally imagined to have.

    His principal focus is to determine if the explanatory posits that are in fact employed

    by these sciences meet the minimal criteria for doing bona fide representational work.

    As he puts it, the question is whether or not such proposals meet the ‘‘job description

    challenge.’’ Adequately meeting that challenge requires saying not only what

    determines the content of a state or structure but also, critically, saying how that state

    or structure serves or functions as a representation in a larger system. Ramsey’s

    assessment is that when the notion of representation is invoked in an important class

    of cases this challenge cannot be met. However, he claims (chapter 3) that there are,

    at least, two prominent uses of the notion in the classical framework of cognitive

    science that are exceptions to this rule. Nevertheless, even these uses—so he argues—

    are at odds in important ways with the standard (folk psychological) interpretation

    of what being a representation amounts to (chapter 2).

Publication Date


  • 2011

Citation


  • Hutto, D. (2011). Representation reconsidered: Book review. Philosophical Psychology, 24 (1), 135-139.

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/715

Number Of Pages


  • 4

Start Page


  • 135

End Page


  • 139

Volume


  • 24

Issue


  • 1