Jan 31, 2017

Visiting Speaker February 10 - Dr. Bill Ramsey

Dr. Bill Ramsey, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas, will be giving a talk in our department on February 10. His talk, titled “Representational Realism Over Deflationism” will be held from 2-4pm in 307 Griffis Hall (note the room change from our usual location). His abstract is as follows:

What sort of an ontological stance should we take with regard to the representational structures that are posited in cognitive and neurological theories? It might seem that there are only two options for answering this question: straightforward realism, or some sort of eliminativism. However, some have suggested a third possibility – that we should be deflationists about cognitive representations and treat them as something like heuristic devices or useful fictions. According to this perspective, we should not regard the value of representational theories as depending upon the existence of actual representational structures in the brain. In my talk I will argue against this third option. First, I’ll explain what robust realism about representation does and does not entail. Then I’ll offer a general argument in favor of realism against deflationism. Then, I’ll look at three deflationist accounts: Chomsky’s ersatz representationalism, Sprevak’s neural representational fictionalism, and Egan’s account of an intentional gloss. I’ll argue that in all three cases, the deflationary account either has unsurmountable problems or collapses into straightforward realism or eliminativism.

We hope to see you there!

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