Efficient Cognition: The Evolution of Representational Decision Making

Much human behavior is stimulus-free. While plants and many non-human animals respond reflexively to their present environment, our own actions are mediated by our ability to represent how the world has been and how it could be, and how we might alter it to achieve our goals. Philosophers who have explored the evolutionary pressures giving rise to representational cognition, such as Godfrey-Smith (1996) and Sterelny (2003), have emphasized the role played by environmental complexity. Armin Schulz suggests that an important part of this evolutionary story has been overlooked. He argues that representationally mediated behavior is adaptive because it is more cognitively efficient than reflex-driven behavior, under certain conditions.…

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