Representation and Cognitive Explanation

  • William S. Robinson


Representations, it is argued, cannot have effects as representations; yet, even so, they are essential to some explanations in cognitive science. These apparently incompatible claims can be reconciled if we distinguish between explaining cognitive abilities and explaining cognition. Certain cognitive abilities can be seen to require representations for their explanation; but explanations of this type cannot explain how the required representations come to be available, or come to be appropriately connected. A clear understanding of the distinction between explaining cognitive abilities and explaining cognition suggests a certain approach to the latter project, and throws light on some recent controversies.


Cognitive Ability Abstract State Turing Machine Artificial Life Direct Representation 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • William S. Robinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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