We are excited about the next Neural Mechanisms webinar this Friday. As always, it is free. You can find information about how and when to join the webinar below or at the Neural Mechanisms website—where you can also join sign up for the mailing list that notifies people about upcoming webinars,
Defending Representational Realism
William Ramsey (University of Nevada)
12 June 2020
14-16 Greenwhich Mean Time
(Convert to your local time here)
Abstract. The representations that are invoked by theorists and researchers in cognitive science allow for a variety of different ontological interpretations. Along with both straightforward realist and eliminativist positions, there are various forms of deflationism. Deflationist accounts deny that the explanatory value or even accuracy of representational theories depends upon the existence of objectively real structures or states that play a representational role in the brain. Alternatively, many deny the existence of any sort of representational content that is objectively real and independent of our explanatory goals or interpretative activities. In this chapter, I am going to argue that this sort of representational deflationism doesn’t really work. After spelling out what a robust sort of realism does or does not entail, I’ll offer some general reasons for thinking realism is preferable to deflationism. Then I will look at three versions of deflationism and argue that all three either fail to capture our scientific practice, or collapse into a more straightforward sort of realism or eliminativism.