The Ontological Status of Representations


Collection: Understanding Representation in the Cognitive Sciences
Pages: 33--38

Scheutz, Matthias

The goal of this paper is to argue that the ontological status of representations can only be evaluated within a theory. In other words, what counts as representation, or whether a certain representation is better than another one, depends solely on the (level of) description of the phenomenon under scrutiny. It is shown how “representation”, being a semantic notion, can be defined in terms of the notion “meaning”. For cognitive science, in particular, it follows that representations, functioning as mere descriptive devices to facilitate one’s goal of explaining and modeling brain/thought processes, cannot in and by themselves give rise to ontological or epistemological claims.

  title={The Ontological Status of Representations},
  author={Scheutz, Matthias},
  booktitle={Understanding Representation in the Cognitive Sciences},