, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 561-564
Date: 29 Dec 2010

The objectivity of representation

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The central question of this huge book is this: What are the conditions that enable an agent to have an objective representation of the (external) world? Though Tyler Burge means by “representation” any sort of intentionality in perception, cognition, or language, in this book, he focuses on perception, which he takes, plausibly, as the fundamental kind of representational act. Thus, what this book essentially provides is an account of perception, aiming to explain how people come to achieve objective, i.e., veridical, perceptual states. But it also contains a considerable critical-historical part in which Burge discusses and criticizes many prominent twentieth-century philosophers. As I shall explain shortly, all these authors are taken to be committed to “individual representationalism,” which Burge regards as a psychologically (and in some cases also epistemologically) mistaken view.

Let me say straightaway that I was struck by two significant features of this book. The first feature ...