Motor Representations Aren’t Intentions
Explains why motor representations aren’t intentions.
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What are intentions?
Goal-Directed and Habitual Processes introduced two minimally controversial assumptions about intention
Intentions are the upshot of beliefs and desires (or are identical to one or both of these).
Intentions specify outcomes and (when things go well) coordinate actions around those outcomes, thereby binding together components of the action.
This section, we rely on a further minimally controversial assumption:
Intentions are propositional attitudes and inferentially integrated with beliefs, desires and other propositional attitudes. This inferential integration allows them to play a characteristic role in practical reasoning (see, for example, Bratman, 1987).
Why Motor Representations Are Not Intentions
Motor representations cannot be intentions because motor representations differ from intentions with respect to their representational format.
To support this claim, we first need to understand the notion of representational format (see below); we then need evidence that the claim is true (see the recording or Butterfill & Sinigaglia, 2014, p. §3 on pp. 124ff).
Imagine you are in an unfamiliar city and are trying to get to the central station. A stranger offers you two routes. Each route could be represented by a distinct line on a paper map. The difference between the two lines is a difference in content. Each of the routes could alternatively have been represented by a distinct series of instructions written on the same piece of paper; these cartographic and propositional representations differ in format.
The format of a representation constrains its possible contents. For example, a representation with a cartographic format cannot represent what is represented by sentences such as `There could not be a mountain whose summit is inaccessible.'
The distinction between content and format is necessary because, as the illustration shows, each can be varied independently of the other.
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Note that the distinction between content and format is orthogonal to issues about representational medium. The maps in our illustration may be paper map or electronic maps, and the instructions may be spoken, signed or written. This difference is one of medium. ↩︎