Structural representations: causally relevant and different from detectors

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Gładziejewski, Paweł; Miłkowski, Marcin
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This paper centers around the notion that internal, mental representations are grounded in structural similarity, i.e., that they are so-called S-representations. We show how S-representations may be causally relevant and argue that they are distinct from mere detectors. First, using the neomechanist theory of explanation and the interventionist account of causal relevance, we provide a precise interpretation of the claim that in S-representations, structural similarity serves as a “fuel of success”, i.e., a relation that is exploitable for the representation using system. Then, we discuss crucial differences between S-representations and indicators or detectors, showing that—contrary to claims made in the literature—there is an important theoretical distinction to be drawn between the two.