What is it for something in the mind to represent something? Distinguished philosopher of mind Robert Cummins looks at the familiar problems of representation theory (what information is represented in the mind, what form mental representation takes, how representational schemes are implemented in the brain, what it is for one thing to represent another) from an unprecedented angle.
In this provocative study, Robert Cummins takes on philosophers, both old and new, who pursue the question of mental representation as an abstraction, apart from the constraints of any particular theory or framework. Cummins asserts that mental representation is, in fact, a problem in the philosophy of science, a theoretical assumption that serves different explanatory roles within the different contexts of commonsense or "folk" psychology, orthodox computation, connectionism, or neuroscience.
In exploring the nature of psychological explanation, this book looks at how psychologists theorize about the human ability to calculate, to speak a language and the like. It shows how good theorizing explains or tries to explain such abilities as perception and cognition. It recasts the familiar explanations of "intelligence" and "cognitive capacity" as put forward by philosophers such as Fodor, Dennett, and others in terms of a theory of explanation that makes established doctrine more intelligible to professionals and their students.
Philosophers have found that the concepts and technology of artificial intelligence provide useful ways to test theories of knowledge and reason. Conversely, researchers in artificial intelligence, noting that the production of information-processing systems require a prior theory of rationality, have begun writing philosophy. Philosophy and AI presents invited contributions that focus on the different perspectives and techniques that philosophy and AI bring to the theory of rationality.