Journal Article

Junk Representations

Lawrence A. Shapiro

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 48, issue 3, pages 345-361
Published in print September 1997 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online September 1997 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/48.3.345
Junk Representations

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Many philosophers and psychologists who approach the issue of representation from a computational or measurement theoretical perspective end up having to deny the possibility of junk representations—representations present in an organism's head but that enter into no psychological processes or produce no behaviour. However, I argue, a more functional perspective makes the possibility of junk representations intuitively quite plausible—so much so that we may wish to question those views of representation that preclude the possibility of junk representations. I explore some of the reasons we should care about the possibility of junk representations and conclude with some speculation about whether junk representations are in fact present in our heads.

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Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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