Deflating deflationism about mental representation

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What are Mental Representations?


The radically enactive, embodied view of cognition (REC) holds that cognition is not always and everywhere grounded in the manipulation of contentful representations. Arguments for REC have assumed that its opponents defend a substantive notion of representation-a notion that entails the existence of content-carrying mental states. This paper considers the prospects of representationalism of a different stripe-one that prefers deflated notions representation. For example, deflationists hold that talk of mental representations might just be a kind of convenient labeling that does not commit theorists to any substantive claims about the explanatory work done by psychosemantic properties. Taking the deflationary option thus undercuts the crucial motivation for positing mental representations in the first place. This chapter argues that, should the deflationist arguments prove warranted, they provide reason to hold that some forms of cognition are contentless, à la REC.

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