International Conference on Theory and Application of Diagrams

Diagrams 2014: Diagrammatic Representation and Inference pp 231-245 | Cite as

The Barwise-Seligman Model of Representation Systems: A Philosophical Explication

  • Atsushi Shimojima
  • Dave Barker-Plummer
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8578)


As an application of their channel theory, Barwise & Seligman sketched a set-theoretic model of representation systems. Their model has the attraction of capturing many important logical properties of diagrams, but few attempts have been made to apply it to actual diagrammatic systems. We attribute this to a lack of precision in their explanation of what their model is about—what a “representation system” is. In this paper, we propose a concept of representation system on the basis of Barwise & Seligman’s original ideas, supplemented by Millikan’s theory of reproduction. On this conception, a representation system is a family of individual representational acts formed through a repetitive reproduction process that preserves a set of syntactic and semantic constraints. We will show that this concept lets us identify a piece of reality that the Barwise-Seligman model is concerned with, making the model ready for use in the logical analysis of real-world representation systems.


representation systems diagrams channel theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Atsushi Shimojima
    • 1
  • Dave Barker-Plummer
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Culture and Information ScienceDoshisha University1-3 Tatara-MiyakodaniJapan
  2. 2.CSLI/Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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