CFP: Mental Representations in a Mechanical World, Bochum, 28.-29.11.2019

Date: 28.-29.11.2019
Venue: Beckmanns Hof, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany


The concept of representation is ubiquitous in cognitive science and in
the philosophy of mind. It seems to play two roles: on the one hand,
neural representationsare postulated by neuroscientists to explain
sub-personal phenomena such as the processing of visual information in
the brain. On the other hand, mental representations are taken to
explain person-level phenomena, such as imagination, or consciousness.
Mental representations are used to make sense of beliefs and other
propositional attitudes and posits of folk psychology.
Non-representationalists contend that postulating representations of any
sort is unnecessary or problematic. Especially the traditional objection
against representationalism, the causal impotence of representational
content, gets new force in the light of the new-mechanical approach to
explanation in life sciences. According to the new mechanists, to
explain a phenomenon is to show how it is produced by an underlying
mechanism. The challenge for representationalists is to explain how
representations can figure in these mechanisms and show that mental
representations have a place in a mechanical world.
One core question of this workshop is whether the status of neural and
mental representation is equally problematic. While sub-personal
phenomena seem to be less resistant to mechanistic explanation, many
personal-level mental phenomena seem to be “representation hungry”.
A second core question concerns the relationship between neural and
mental representations. It is often assumed that the former are needed
to account for the latter. However, naturalising neural representations,
and accounting for their explanatory utility in a mechanistic
neuroscience proves difficult. How intertwined are beliefs and desires
with neural representations? Do they only come together, or is a
conceptual repertoire including one but not the other a coherent

Joe Dewhurst (LMU)
Carrie Figdor (Iowa)
Jolien Francken (Amsterdam)
Matej Kohar (RUB)
Beate Krickel (RUB)
Marcin Milkowski (Polish Academy of Sciences)
Karina Vold (Cambridge)

Call for Papers: A number of further presentation slots have been
reserved for interested scholars selected by double-blind peer review
process. The contributions should be suitable for a 30 minute
presentation. To apply, submit an anonymised abstract of 1000 words
making the thesis and argument of your contribution transparent by 16th
June via EasyChair:
Selected participants will be notified by the end of August.

Call for Registration: Participation is free but space is limited.
Please register by Nov. 1 by filling in the form on

Organisation: Matej Kohár, Dr. Beate Krickel (as part of Meta4E

Financial support:  Ruhr-University Research School PLUS, funded by
Germany’s Excellence Initiative [DFG GSC 98/3], DFG Research Training
Group “Situated Cognition”, and Prof. Dr. Albert Newen.