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The phrase "the Representational Theory of Mind" (RTM) is used in two different but related ways. To understand the difference, one must distinguish two levels at which human beings can be described. The first is personal and belongs to common sense or folk psychology. The second level, in contrast, is subpersonal and scientific. Cognitive scientists and philosophers of cognitive science have offered various characterizations. This chapter begins with the author's own view, based on C.S. Peirce's general theory of representation, and then uses that as a basis of comparison to other views. Cognitive scientists, who conceptualize the mind/brain as, or as substantially like, a computer, take the representation-bearers of mental representations to be computational structures or states. Peirce hypothesized two broad kinds of ground for representation: similarity and causation. Mental representations play multiple roles in cognitive science explanations, which themselves come in many kinds.
The aim of this paper is to examine the usefulness of the Machamer, Darden, and Craver (2000) mechanism approach to gaining an understanding of explanation in cognitive neuroscience. We argue that although the mechanism approach can capture many aspects of explanation in cognitive neuroscience, it cannot capture everything. In particular, it cannot completely capture all aspects of the content and significance of mental representations or the evaluative features constitutive of psychopathology.
There are many different kinds of psychology: abnormal, behavioral, clinical, cognitive, developmental, physiological, personality, and social, to name some of the major categories. In recent years, philosophers of psychology (in the sense under discussion today) have focused primarily on cognitive psychology and Freudian psychoanalysis (which cross-cuts abnormal and personality). In this paper, I propose to turn my attention to one of the least discussed of these fields: social psychology. Specifically, I will consider a debate currently raging in the sub-field of social psychology known as “social perception research.”
Social psychology is - to quote from a recent textbook - “the scientific study of the thoughts, actions, and interactions of individuals as affected by the actual, implied, or imagined presence of others…. The social emphasis distinguishes social psychology from [other fields of] psychology, and the emphasis on the individual distinguishes it from sociology” (Tedeschi, Lindskold, and Rosenfeld 1985, 4-5).
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