Review of Efficient cognition: the evolution of representational decision making, (Armin W. Schulz, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2018)
Why do some organisms rely on mental representations for making decisions? Why don’t we rely merely on direct mappings from perception to behavior? Armin W. Schulz’ book, Efficient Cognition: The Evolution of Representational Decision Making, offers a novel and empirically-informed perspective on a problem that has not received the amount of philosophical attention it deserves. In his view, representational decision making evolved because creatures that use it have enhanced cognitive and neurological efficiency. Here I provide an overview of the book’s contents and a critical assessment of his proposal.
KeywordsMental representation Evolutionary psychology Neural selection Causal reasoning Psychological altruism
I’m grateful to Hayley Clatterbuck, David Papineau, and Armin Schulz for feedback on an earlier draft of this essay.
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