Philosophy Dept., University of Nevada, Las Vegas
—The representations that are invoked by theorists and researchers in cognitive science allow for a variety of different ontological interpretations. Along with both straightforward realist and eliminativist positions, there are various forms of deflationism. Deflationist accounts deny that the explanatory value or even accuracy of representational theories depends upon the existence of objectively real structures or states that play a representational role in the brain and that have any real content. In this talk I am going to argue that this sort of representational deflationism doesn’t really work. After spelling out what a robust sort of realism does or does not entail, I’ll offer some general reasons for thinking realism is preferable to deflationism. Then I will look at three versions of deflationism and argue that all three either fail to capture our scientific practice, or collapse into a more straightforward sort of realism or eliminativism.