Title

Untangling two questions about mental representation

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2016

Publication Title

New Ideas in Psychology

Volume

40

First page number:

3

Last page number:

12

Abstract

In their efforts to provide a naturalistic account of mental representation, both cognitive researchers and philosophers have failed to properly address an important distinction between two core dimensions of representation: the functional role of representing on the one hand, and the content associated with that role on the other hand. Instead, accounts of representation tend to either conflate these two or ignore the functional role aspect altogether. Here it is argued that by properly separating these two dimensions, we can gain a better understanding of the actual challenge we confront in explaining mental representation. Moreover, it is suggested that certain theories that have traditionally been viewed as competing accounts of representation should instead be treated as complementary accounts of these different dimensions. It is shown that by adopting this perspective, we can overcome certain traditional problems and also improve our understanding of empirical models of cognition, such as those that invoke cognitive maps in the hippocampus of animal brains. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Keywords

Cognitive maps; Content; Functional role; Representation; Surrogative reasoning

Language

English

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