Cognitive Science Colloquium - Michael Rescorla

Mar 21, 2024, 12:00 pm1:00 pm



Event Description

"Mental Representation in Bayesian Cognitive Science"

Abstract: Bayesian decision theory is a mathematical framework that models reasoning and decision-making under uncertain conditions. The Bayesian paradigm originated as a theory of how people should operate, not a theory of how they actually operate. Nevertheless, researchers increasingly use it to describe the actual workings of the human mind. Over the past few decades, cognitive science has produced impressive Bayesian models of mental activity. The models postulate that certain mental processes conform, or approximately conform, to Bayesian norms. Bayesian models have illuminated numerous mental phenomena, such as perceptionmotor control, and navigation. In this talk, I will argue that Bayesian models of the mind assign a central explanatory role to representational mental states. I will then argue that representationality has significant implications for how we interpret the formal apparatus employed by Bayesian models.