Ramsey W. M. (2017) Must cognition be representational? Synthese 194(11): 4197–4214. https://cepa.info/5605
Must cognition be representational?
Synthese 194(11): 4197–4214.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/5605
In various contexts and for various reasons, writers often define cognitive processes and architectures as those involving representational states and structures. Similarly, cognitive theories are also often delineated as those that invoke representations. In this paper, I present several reasons for rejecting this way of demarcating the cognitive. Some of the reasons against defining cognition in representational terms are that doing so needlessly restricts our theorizing, it undermines the empirical status of the representational theory of mind, and it encourages wildly deflationary and explanatorily vacuous conceptions of representation. After criticizing this outlook, I sketch alternative ways we might try to capture what is distinctive about cognition and cognitive theorizing.