Edinburgh speaker series seminar
Speaker: Mazviita Chirimuuta (University of Edinburgh)
Title: Why “Neural Representations”?
Abstract: Theories in cognitive neuroscience often posit “representations” in the brain, and while the appeal to intentional notions is widespread, their status is controversial. This paper offers a new interpretation of the theory and practice. I argue that intentional posits are typically brought in because they allow a workable model or framework for describing relationships between neural activity and extra-cranial occurrences in which the distal but not the proximal causal interactions have explanatory relevance. This stands in contrast to (purely) mechanistic frameworks which do not licence the black-boxing of proximal causal processes. The positing of neural representations is a powerful way to abstract away from the details of very complex causal chains that link patterns of neural activity to their distal triggers or effects in the world beyond the brain. I situate my proposal with respect to current realist, eliminativist and deflationary accounts of neural representations, and argue for the advantages of my metaphysically agnostic proposal over these alternatives.
The Edinburgh Speaker Series features talks on all areas of philosophy. For information, or to join the email list for these events, please contact Mahrad Almotahari. All are welcome, including all students (MA, MSc, PhD) and faculty in philosophy.