The word “water” refers to a kind of liquid. The belief that that oak tree sways is about a particular tree. The committee’s decision to award a student first-class marks represents the world as it might be, and resolves to make it that way.
All are examples of representation, where one thing stands for another. Sometimes representation involves what goes on in the head of an individual, sometimes it involves artefacts made by them, and sometimes it involves the groups they compose.
No matter where it arises, we should ask the question: what does the world have to be like for one thing to represent another?
This website documents two projects where I have explored these questions.
The Nature of Representation (NATREP, 2012-17) examined the metaphysics and epistemology of individual representation, concentrating on metaphysics in individual’s perceptions and intentions, in their beliefs and desires, and in their words. Some results of this research are forthcoming in my monograph The Metaphysics of Representation, to be published by Oxford University Press in 2019.
Group Thinking: New Foundations (GROUNDS, 2019-2024) examines the case of collective representation: group beliefs, desires, actions and evidence.
Both projects are supported by five-year grants from the European Research Council, and the Principal Investigator in both cases is Robert Williams of the University of Leeds. For more information: find out who is/has been involved under “People”. Find reports of what we did for each year of the project under the “What we did” tab. Details of what we read each week and what speakers spoke about are in the “seminar” tab. Interim news and reports are in the “news” tab.
A lengthy extract from the scientific proposal of the GROUNDS project is available.
If you’re visiting Leeds, a google map with listing of restaurants, coffee shops, lunch venues, pubs and places of interest is available at this link. The guardian’s budget eats guide is worth checking out for some more detail on a few of the places highlighted in the map.