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  1. Unification Strategies in Cognitive Science.Marcin Miłkowski - 2016 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 48 (1):13–33.
    Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary conglomerate of various research fields and disciplines, which increases the risk of fragmentation of cognitive theories. However, while most previous work has focused on theoretical integration, some kinds of integration may turn out to be monstrous, or result in superficially lumped and unrelated bodies of knowledge. In this paper, I distinguish theoretical integration from theoretical unification, and propose some analyses of theoretical unification dimensions. Moreover, two research strategies that are supposed to lead to unification are (...)
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  • Integrating Cognitive (Neuro)Science Using Mechanisms.Marcin Miłkowski - 2016 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies (2):45-67.
    In this paper, an account of theoretical integration in cognitive (neuro)science from the mechanistic perspective is defended. It is argued that mechanistic patterns of integration can be better understood in terms of constraints on representations of mechanisms, not just on the space of possible mechanisms, as previous accounts of integration had it. This way, integration can be analyzed in more detail with the help of constraintsatisfaction account of coherence between scientific representations. In particular, the account has resources to talk of (...)
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  • The Search of “Canonical” Explanations for the Cerebral Cortex.Alessio Plebe - 2018 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (3):40.
    This paper addresses a fundamental line of research in neuroscience: the identification of a putative neural processing core of the cerebral cortex, often claimed to be “canonical”. This “canonical” core would be shared by the entire cortex, and would explain why it is so powerful and diversified in tasks and functions, yet so uniform in architecture. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the search for canonical explanations over the past 40 years, discussing the theoretical frameworks informing this research. (...)
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  • Pluralistic Mechanism.Abel Wajnerman Paz - 2017 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 32 (2).
    An argument recently proposed by Chirimuuta seems to motivate the rejection of the claims that every neurocognitive phenomenon can have a mechanistic explanation and that every neurocognitive explanation is mechanistic. In this paper, I focus on efficient coding models involving the so-called “canonical neural computations” and argue that although they imply some form of pluralism, they are compatible with two mechanistic generalizations: all neurocognitive explanations are mechanistic; and all neurocognitive phenomena that have an explanation have a purely mechanistic explanation.
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  • Varieties of Difference-Makers: Considerations on Chirimuuta’s Approach to Non-Causal Explanation in Neuroscience.Abel Wajnerman Paz - 2019 - Manuscrito 42 (1):91-119.
    Causal approaches to explanation often assume that a model explains by describing features that make a difference regarding the phenomenon. Chirimuuta claims that this idea can be also used to understand non-causal explanation in computational neuroscience. She argues that mathematical principles that figure in efficient coding explanations are non-causal difference-makers. Although these principles cannot be causally altered, efficient coding models can be used to show how would the phenomenon change if the principles were modified in counterpossible situations. The problem is (...)
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  • Wiring Optimization Explanation in Neuroscience: What is Special About It?Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2019 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 1 (34):89-110.
    This paper examines the explanatory distinctness of wiring optimization models in neuroscience. Wiring optimization models aim to represent the organizational features of neural and brain systems as optimal (or near-optimal) solutions to wiring optimization problems. My claim is that that wiring optimization models provide design explanations. In particular, they support ideal interventions on the decision variables of the relevant design problem and assess the impact of such interventions on the viability of the target system.
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  • Are More Details Better? On the Norms of Completeness for Mechanistic Explanations.Carl F. Craver & David M. Kaplan - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy015.
    Completeness is an important but misunderstood norm of explanation. It has recently been argued that mechanistic accounts of scientific explanation are committed to the thesis that models are complete only if they describe everything about a mechanism and, as a corollary, that incomplete models are always improved by adding more details. If so, mechanistic accounts are at odds with the obvious and important role of abstraction in scientific modelling. We respond to this characterization of the mechanist’s views about abstraction and (...)
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  • Reductionism Ad Absurdum: Attneave and Dennett Cannot Reduce Homunculus (and Hence the Mind).Lance Nizami - 2018 - Kybernetes 47:163-185.
    Purpose – Neuroscientists act as proxies for implied anthropomorphic signal- processing beings within the brain, Homunculi. The latter examine the arriving neuronal spike-trains to infer internal and external states. But a Homunculus needs a brain of its own, to coordinate its capabilities – a brain that necessarily contains a Homunculus and so on indefinitely. Such infinity is impossible – and in well-cited papers, Attneave and later Dennett claim to eliminate it. How do their approaches differ and do they (in fact) (...)
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  • From Wide Cognition to Mechanisms: A Silent Revolution.Marcin Miłkowski, Robert Clowes, Zuzanna Rucińska, Aleksandra Przegalińska, Tadeusz Zawidzki, Joel Krueger, Adam Gies, Marek McGann, Łukasz Afeltowicz, Witold Wachowski, Fredrik Stjernberg, Victor Loughlin & Mateusz Hohol - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
    In this paper, we argue that several recent ‘wide’ perspectives on cognition (embodied, embedded, extended, enactive, and distributed) are only partially relevant to the study of cognition. While these wide accounts override traditional methodological individualism, the study of cognition has already progressed beyond these proposed perspectives towards building integrated explanations of the mechanisms involved, including not only internal submechanisms but also interactions with others, groups, cognitive artifacts, and their environment. The claim is substantiated with reference to recent developments in the (...)
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  • The Nonmechanistic Option: Defending Dynamical Explanation.Russell Meyer - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:0-0.
    This paper demonstrates that nonmechanistic, dynamical explanations are a viable approach to explanation in the special sciences. The claim that dynamical models can be explanatory without reference to mechanisms has previously been met with three lines of criticism from mechanists: the causal relevance concern, the genuine laws concern, and the charge of predictivism. I argue, however, that these mechanist criticisms fail to defeat nonmechanistic, dynamical explanation. Using the examples of Haken et al.’s ([1985]) HKB model of bimanual coordination, and Thelen (...)
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  • Introduction.Krzysztof Dołęga, Luke Roelofs & Tobias Schlicht - 2018 - Philosophical Explorations 21 (2):179-186.
    The papers in this special issue make important contributions to a longstanding debate about how we should conceive of and explain mental phenomena. In other words, they make a case about the best philosophical paradigm for cognitive science. The two main competing approaches, hotly debated for several decades, are representationalism and enactivism. However, recent developments in disciplines such as machine learning and computational neuroscience have fostered a proliferation of intermediate approaches, leading to the emergence of completely new positions, in particular (...)
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  • Functionalism, Computationalism, and Mental Contents.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2004 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 34 (3):375-410.
    Some philosophers have conflated functionalism and computationalism. I reconstruct how this came about and uncover two assumptions that made the conflation possible. They are the assumptions that (i) psychological functional analyses are computational descriptions and (ii) everything may be described as performing computations. I argue that, if we want to improve our understanding of both the metaphysics of mental states and the functional relations between them, we should reject these assumptions. # 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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  • Reconciling New Mechanism and Psychological Explanation: A Pragmatic Approach.Michael De Vivo - unknown
    Recently, Gualtiero Piccinini and Carl Craver have argued that functional analyses in psychology lack explanatory autonomy from explanations in neuroscience. In this thesis I argue against this claim by motivating and defending a pragmatic-epistemic conception of autonomous psychological explanation. I argue that this conception of autonomy need not require that functional analyses be distinct in kind from neural-mechanistic explanations. I use the framework of Bas van Fraassen’s Pragmatic Theory of Explanation to show that explanations in psychology and neuroscience can be (...)
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  • Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience: Multifield Mechanistic Integration in Practice.Mark Povich - forthcoming - Theory & Psychology.
    Autonomist accounts of cognitive science suggest that cognitive model building and theory construction (can or should) proceed independently of findings in neuroscience. Common functionalist justifications of autonomy rely on there being relatively few constraints between neural structure and cognitive function (e.g., Weiskopf, 2011). In contrast, an integrative mechanistic perspective stresses the mutual constraining of structure and function (e.g., Piccinini & Craver, 2011; Povich, 2015). In this paper, I show how model-based cognitive neuroscience (MBCN) epitomizes the integrative mechanistic perspective and concentrates (...)
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  • Mechanisms in Cognitive Science.Carlos Zednik - 2017 - In Phyllis McKay Illari & Stuart Glennan (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. London: Routledge. pp. 389-400.
    This chapter subsumes David Marr’s levels of analysis account of explanation in cognitive science under the framework of mechanistic explanation: Answering the questions that define each one of Marr’s three levels is tantamount to describing the component parts and operations of mechanisms, as well as their organization, behavior, and environmental context. By explicating these questions and showing how they are answered in several different cognitive science research programs, this chapter resolves some of the ambiguities that remain in Marr’s account, and (...)
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  • Models and Mechanisms in Network Neuroscience.Carlos Zednik - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology 32 (1):23-51.
    This paper considers the way mathematical and computational models are used in network neuroscience to deliver mechanistic explanations. Two case studies are considered: Recent work on klinotaxis by Caenorhabditis elegans, and a longstanding research effort on the network basis of schizophrenia in humans. These case studies illustrate the various ways in which network, simulation and dynamical models contribute to the aim of representing and understanding network mechanisms in the brain, and thus, of delivering mechanistic explanations. After outlining this mechanistic construal (...)
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  • Structural Representations: Causally Relevant and Different From Detectors.Paweł Gładziejewski & Marcin Miłkowski - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (3):337-355.
    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 (...)
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  • Towards a Cognitive Neuroscience of Intentionality.Alex Morgan & Gualtiero Piccinini - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):119-139.
    We situate the debate on intentionality within the rise of cognitive neuroscience and argue that cognitive neuroscience can explain intentionality. We discuss the explanatory significance of ascribing intentionality to representations. At first, we focus on views that attempt to render such ascriptions naturalistic by construing them in a deflationary or merely pragmatic way. We then contrast these views with staunchly realist views that attempt to naturalize intentionality by developing theories of content for representations in terms of information and biological function. (...)
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  • Abstraction in Ecology: Reductionism and Holism as Complementary Heuristics.Jani Raerinne - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):395-416.
    In addition to their core explanatory and predictive assumptions, scientific models include simplifying assumptions, which function as idealizations, approximations, and abstractions. There are methods to investigate whether simplifying assumptions bias the results of models, such as robustness analyses. However, the equally important issue – the focus of this paper – has received less attention, namely, what are the methodological and epistemic strengths and limitations associated with different simplifying assumptions. I concentrate on one type of simplifying assumption, the use of mega (...)
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  • Computation and Representation in Cognitive Neuroscience.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):1-6.
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  • Against the “System” Module.John Zerilli - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (3):231-246.
    Modularity is a fundamental doctrine in the cognitive sciences. It holds a preeminent position in cognitive psychology and generative linguistics, as well as a long history in neurophysiology, with roots going all the way back to the early nineteenth century. But a mature field of neuroscience is a comparatively recent phenomenon and has challenged orthodox conceptions of the modular mind. One way of accommodating modularity within the new framework suggested by these developments is to go for increasingly soft versions of (...)
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  • From Symbols to Icons: The Return of Resemblance in the Cognitive Neuroscience Revolution.Daniel Williams & Lincoln Colling - 2018 - Synthese 195 (5):1941-1967.
    We argue that one important aspect of the “cognitive neuroscience revolution” identified by Boone and Piccinini :1509–1534. doi: 10.1007/s11229-015-0783-4, 2015) is a dramatic shift away from thinking of cognitive representations as arbitrary symbols towards thinking of them as icons that replicate structural characteristics of their targets. We argue that this shift has been driven both “from below” and “from above”—that is, from a greater appreciation of what mechanistic explanation of information-processing systems involves, and from a greater appreciation of the problems (...)
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  • Giving Up on Convergence and Autonomy: Why the Theories of Psychology and Neuroscience Are Codependent as Well as Irreconcilable.Eric Hochstein - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A:1-19.
    There is a long-standing debate in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of science regarding how best to interpret the relationship between neuroscience and psychology. It has traditionally been argued that either the two domains will evolve and change over time until they converge on a single unified account of human behaviour, or else that they will continue to work in isolation given that they identify properties and states that exist autonomously from one another (due to the multiple-realizability of psychological (...)
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  • A Mechanistic Perspective on Canonical Neural Computation.Abel Wajnerman Paz - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (3):209-230.
    Although it has been argued that mechanistic explanation is compatible with abstraction, there are still doubts about whether mechanism can account for the explanatory power of significant abstract models in computational neuroscience. Chirimuuta has recently claimed that models describing canonical neural computations must be evaluated using a non-mechanistic framework. I defend two claims regarding these models. First, I argue that their prevailing neurocognitive interpretation is mechanistic. Additionally, a criterion recently proposed by Levy and Bechtel to legitimize mechanistic abstract models, and (...)
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  • Still Autonomous After All.Andrew Knoll - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):7-27.
    Recent mechanistic philosophers :1287–1321, 2016) have argued that the cognitive sciences are not autonomous from neuroscience proper. I clarify two senses of autonomy–metaphysical and epistemic—and argue that cognitive science is still autonomous in both senses. Moreover, mechanistic explanation of cognitive phenomena is not therefore an alternative to the view that cognitive science is autonomous of neuroscience. If anything, it’s a way of characterizing just how cognitive processes are implemented by neural mechanisms.
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  • Neural Representations Observed.Eric Thomson & Gualtiero Piccinini - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):191-235.
    The historical debate on representation in cognitive science and neuroscience construes representations as theoretical posits and discusses the degree to which we have reason to posit them. We reject the premise of that debate. We argue that experimental neuroscientists routinely observe and manipulate neural representations in their laboratory. Therefore, neural representations are as real as neurons, action potentials, or any other well-established entities in our ontology.
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  • Transcendental Kantianism, Naturalized Kantianism, and the Bounds of Psychology.Yakir Levin - 2017 - Acta Analytica 32 (4):465-488.
    Are there sensory states that, unlike mere sensory registrations, require an explanatory framework that goes beyond biology? Based on a reconstruction of Kant’s a priori, transcendental psychology, contemporary Kantians answer this question in the positive but dramatically limit the scope of psychology. In contrast, naturalistically oriented deflationists answer it in the negative, thereby not giving psychology any explanatory role whatsoever. In his recent monumental book Origins of Objectivity, Burge argues against both of these approaches and seeks to develop an intermediate (...)
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  • In Defense of Picturing; Sellars’s Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Neuroscience.Carl B. Sachs - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-21.
    I argue that Sellars’s distinction between signifying and picturing should be taken seriously by philosophers of mind, language, and cognition. I begin with interpretations of key Sellarsian texts in order to show that picturing is best understood as a theory of non-linguistic cognitive representations through which animals navigate their environments. This is distinct from the kind of discursive cognition that Sellars called ‘signifying’ and which is best understood in terms of socio-linguistic inferences. I argue that picturing is required because reflection (...)
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