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What is psychological explanation?

In P. Calvo & J. Symons (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Psychology. Routledge. pp. 113--130 (2009)

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  1. Un Análisis Crítico de la Concepción Mecanicista de la Explicación.Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2012 - Revista Latinoamericana de Filosofia 38 (2):233-265.
    En este trabajo me propongo desarrollar un estudio crítico de la concepción mecanicista de la explicación científica. En primer lugar, argumento que la caracterización mecanicista de los modelos fenoménicos (no explicativos) es inadecuada, pues no ofrece un análisis aceptable de los conceptos de modelo científico y similitud, que son fundamentales para la propuesta. En segundo lugar, sostengo que la caracterización de los modelos mecanicistas (explicativos) es igualmente inadecuada, pues los análisis disponibles de la relación explicativa de relevancia constitutiva implican una (...)
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  • What is a Mechanism? Thinking About Mechanisms Across the Sciences.Phyllis Illari & Jon Williamson - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):119-135.
    After a decade of intense debate about mechanisms, there is still no consensus characterization. In this paper we argue for a characterization that applies widely to mechanisms across the sciences. We examine and defend our disagreements with the major current contenders for characterizations of mechanisms. Ultimately, we indicate that the major contenders can all sign up to our characterization.
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  • Explanatory Pluralism: An Unrewarding Prediction Error for Free Energy Theorists.Matteo Colombo & Cory Wright - 2017 - Brain and Cognition 112:3–12.
    Courtesy of its free energy formulation, the hierarchical predictive processing theory of the brain (PTB) is often claimed to be a grand unifying theory. To test this claim, we examine a central case: activity of mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic (DA) systems. After reviewing the three most prominent hypotheses of DA activity—the anhedonia, incentive salience, and reward prediction error hypotheses—we conclude that the evidence currently vindicates explanatory pluralism. This vindication implies that the grand unifying claims of advocates of PTB are unwarranted. More generally, (...)
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  • Disentangling the Holism of Intentional Systems From the Interactionism of Mechanistic Systems in Person-Oriented Research.Artur Nilsson - unknown
    A key assumption in the person-oriented approach is that a person must be understood as a complex, integrated system, represented by patterns of within-person variation rather than scores on separate variables. The term ‘system’ does, however, have multiple meanings, which are not clearly distinguished in the person-oriented literature. I try to disentangle causal interactionism, which describes the psychological consequences and functions of each component of the system as dependent upon its causal interaction with other system components, from content holism, which (...)
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  • HIT and Brain Reward Function: A Case of Mistaken Identity (Theory).Cory Wright, Matteo Colombo & Alexander Beard - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 64:28–40.
    This paper employs a case study from the history of neuroscience—brain reward function—to scrutinize the inductive argument for the so-called ‘Heuristic Identity Theory’ (HIT). The case fails to support HIT, illustrating why other case studies previously thought to provide empirical support for HIT also fold under scrutiny. After distinguishing two different ways of understanding the types of identity claims presupposed by HIT and considering other conceptual problems, we conclude that HIT is not an alternative to the traditional identity theory so (...)
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  • The Unplanned Obsolescence of Psychological Science and an Argument for its Revival.Stan Klein - 2016 - Pyshcology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice 3:357-379.
    I examine some of the key scientific pre-commitments of modern psychology, and argue that their adoption has the unintended consequence of rendering a purely psychological analysis of mind indistinguishable from a purely biological treatment. And, since these pre-commitments sanction an “authority of the biological”, explanation of phenomena traditionally considered the purview of psychological analysis is fully subsumed under the biological. I next evaluate the epistemic warrant of these pre-commitments and suggest there are good reasons to question their applicability to psychological (...)
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  • Radical Rationalization Accommodates Rampant Irrationality.Joachim Lipski - 2018 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 25 (1):53-73.
    According to a classic position in analytic philosophy of mind, we must interpret agents as largely rational in order to be able to attribute intentional mental states to them. However, adopting this position requires clarifying in what way and by which criteria agents can still be irrational. In this paper I will offer one such criterion. More specifically, I argue that the kind of rationality methodologically required by intentional interpretation is to be specified in terms of psychological efficacy. Thereby, this (...)
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  • Compositional Explanatory Relations and Mechanistic Reduction.Kari L. Theurer - 2013 - Minds and Machines 23 (3):287-307.
    Recently, some mechanists have embraced reductionism and some reductionists have endorsed mechanism. However, the two camps disagree sharply about the extent to which mechanistic explanation is a reductionistic enterprise. Reductionists maintain that cellular and molecular mechanisms can explain mental phenomena without necessary appeal to higher-level mechanisms. Mechanists deny this claim. I argue that this dispute turns on whether reduction is a transitive relation. I show that it is. Therefore, mechanistic explanations at the cellular and molecular level explain mental phenomena. I (...)
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  • Intractability and the Use of Heuristics in Psychological Explanations.Iris Rooij, Cory Wright & Todd Wareham - 2012 - Synthese 187 (2):471-487.
    Many cognitive scientists, having discovered that some computational-level characterization f of a cognitive capacity φ is intractable, invoke heuristics as algorithmic-level explanations of how cognizers compute f. We argue that such explanations are actually dysfunctional, and rebut five possible objections. We then propose computational-level theory revision as a principled and workable alternative.
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  • Demotivating Intentional Mentalism.Joachim Lipski - 2017 - Theoria 83 (4):298-318.
    Intentional Mentalism is the view that mental intentionality is primary to non-mental intentionality and that the latter is derived from the former. In this article I examine three views which have been taken to motivate Intentional Mentalism: conventionalism as invoked by Searle, Gricean pragmatism, and the language of thought hypothesis. I argue that none of these views motivates Intentional Mentalism, and that, in fact, the former two imply its rejection.
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  • Self‐Control as a Normative Capacity.Annemarie Kalis - 2018 - Ratio 31 (S1):65-80.
    Recently, two apparent truisms about self-control have been questioned in both the philosophical and the psychological literature: the idea that exercising self-control involves an agent doing something, and the idea that self-control is a good thing. Both assumptions have come under threat because self-control is increasingly understood as a mental mechanism, and mechanisms cannot possibly be good or active in the required sense. However, I will argue that it is not evident that self-control should be understood as a mechanism, suggesting (...)
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  • Embodied Cognition, Representationalism, and Mechanism: A Review and Analysis.Jonathan S. Spackman & Stephen C. Yanchar - 2014 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 44 (1):46-79.
    Embodied cognition has attracted significant attention within cognitive science and related fields in recent years. It is most noteworthy for its emphasis on the inextricable connection between mental functioning and embodied activity and thus for its departure from standard cognitive science's implicit commitment to the unembodied mind. This article offers a review of embodied cognition's recent empirical and theoretical contributions and suggests how this movement has moved beyond standard cognitive science. The article then clarifies important respects in which embodied cognition (...)
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  • An Interventionist Approach to Psychological Explanation.Michael Rescorla - 2018 - Synthese 195 (5):1909-1940.
    Interventionism is a theory of causal explanation developed by Woodward and Hitchcock. I defend an interventionist perspective on the causal explanations offered within scientific psychology. The basic idea is that psychology causally explains mental and behavioral outcomes by specifying how those outcomes would have been different had an intervention altered various factors, including relevant psychological states. I elaborate this viewpoint with examples drawn from cognitive science practice, especially Bayesian perceptual psychology. I favorably compare my interventionist approach with well-known nomological and (...)
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