Modelling Empty Representations: The Case of Computational Models of Hallucination

  • Marcin MiłkowskiEmail author
Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 28)


I argue that there are no plausible non-representational explanations of episodes of hallucination. To make the discussion more specific, I focus on visual hallucinations in Charles Bonnet syndrome. I claim that the character of such hallucinatory experiences cannot be explained away non-representationally, for they cannot be taken as simple failures of cognizing or as failures of contact with external reality—such failures being the only genuinely non-representational explanations of hallucinations and cognitive errors in general. I briefly introduce a recent computational model of hallucination, which relies on generative models in the brain, and argue that the model is a prime example of a representational explanation referring to representational mechanisms. The notion of the representational mechanism is elucidated, and it is argued that hallucinations—and other kinds of representations—cannot be exorcised from the cognitive sciences.



The work on this paper was financed by the National Science Centre under the program OPUS, grant no. 2011/03/B/HS1/04563. The author wishes to thank reviewers, in particular Tom Froese, and other careful readers of the draft, in particular Joe Dewhurst, Krzysztof Dołęga, Gualtiero Piccinini and Paweł Zięba for their very helpful comments.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of SciencesWarszawaPoland

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