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WIREs Cogn Sci
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Representation, philosophical issues about

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Abstract The concept of representation plays a central role in philosophical and scientific theorizing about the mind, and according to the representational theory of mind (RTM), a wide variety of cognitive and perceptual capacities are best explained in terms of the occurrence and processing of mental representations. The concept of representation remains elusive, however, and there is no widespread agreement among philosophers or cognitive scientists over what it is for one thing to represent another. One reason for the lack of consensus is that philosophers and scientists deploy the concept in many different ways for many different purposes. Another reason for the lack of consensus is that, while it is generally agreed that a scientifically useful notion of representation should be informed and constrained by what we know about brains, there is disagreement over what contemporary neuroscience does or does not suggest about the nature of representation. This article discusses some of the key issues involved in developing a general theory of mental representation, in light of these divergent purposes and conflicting views. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. This article is categorized under: Philosophy > Foundations of Cognitive Science

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