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  1. Cognition in Practice: Conceptual Development and Disagreement in Cognitive Science.Mikio Akagi - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
    Cognitive science has been beset for thirty years by foundational disputes about the nature and extension of cognition—e.g. whether cognition is necessarily representational, whether cognitive processes extend outside the brain or body, and whether plants or microbes have them. Whereas previous philosophical work aimed to settle these disputes, I aim to understand what conception of cognition scientists could share given that they disagree so fundamentally. To this end, I develop a number of variations on traditional conceptual explication, and defend a (...)
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  • Representation Re-Construed: Answering the Job Description Challenge with a Construal-Based Notion of Natural Representation.Mikio Akagi - manuscript
    Many philosophers worry that cognitive scientists apply the concept REPRESENTATION too liberally. For example, William Ramsey argues that scientists often ascribe natural representations according to the “receptor notion,” a causal account with absurd consequences. I rehabilitate the receptor notion by augmenting it with a background condition: that natural representations are ascribed only to systems construed as organisms. This Organism-Receptor account rationalizes our existing conceptual practice, including the fact that scientists in fact reject Ramsey’s absurd consequences. The Organism-Receptor account raises some (...)
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  • Deep Learning: A Philosophical Introduction.Cameron Buckner - forthcoming - Philosophy Compass.
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  • Pseudo‐Mechanistic Explanations in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience.Bernhard Hommel - forthcoming - Topics in Cognitive Science.
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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 and Model-Based Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging.Mark Povich - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1035-1046.
    Mechanistic explanations satisfy widely held norms of explanation: the ability to manipulate and answer counterfactual questions about the explanandum phenomenon. A currently debated issue is whether any nonmechanistic explanations can satisfy these explanatory norms. Weiskopf argues that the models of object recognition and categorization, JIM, SUSTAIN, and ALCOVE, are not mechanistic yet satisfy these norms of explanation. In this article I argue that these models are mechanism sketches. My argument applies recent research using model-based functional magnetic resonance imaging, a novel (...)
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  • Function, Selection, and Construction in the Brain.Justin Garson - 2012 - Synthese 189 (3):451-481.
    A common misunderstanding of the selected effects theory of function is that natural selection operating over an evolutionary time scale is the only functionbestowing process in the natural world. This construal of the selected effects theory conflicts with the existence and ubiquity of neurobiological functions that are evolutionary novel, such as structures underlying reading ability. This conflict has suggested to some that, while the selected effects theory may be relevant to some areas of evolutionary biology, its relevance to neuroscience is (...)
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  • Functional Analyses, Mechanistic Explanations, and Explanatory Tradeoffs.Sergio Daniel Barberis - 2013 - Journal of Cognitive Science 14:229-251.
    Recently, Piccinini and Craver have stated three theses concerning the relations between functional analysis and mechanistic explanation in cognitive sciences: No Distinctness: functional analysis and mechanistic explanation are explanations of the same kind; Integration: functional analysis is a kind of mechanistic explanation; and Subordination: functional analyses are unsatisfactory sketches of mechanisms. In this paper, I argue, first, that functional analysis and mechanistic explanations are sub-kinds of explanation by scientific (idealized) models. From that point of view, we must take into account (...)
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  • Making Too Many Enemies: Hutto and Myin’s Attack on Computationalism.Jesse Kuokkanen & Anna-Mari Rusanen - 2018 - Philosophical Explorations 21 (2):282-294.
    We analyse Hutto & Myin's three arguments against computationalism [Hutto, D., E. Myin, A. Peeters, and F. Zahnoun. Forthcoming. “The Cognitive Basis of Computation: Putting Computation In Its Place.” In The Routledge Handbook of the Computational Mind, edited by M. Sprevak, and M. Colombo. London: Routledge.; Hutto, D., and E. Myin. 2012. Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds Without Content. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; Hutto, D., and E. Myin. 2017. Evolving Enactivism: Basic Minds Meet Content. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press]. The Hard Problem (...)
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  • Empiricism Without Magic: Transformational Abstraction in Deep Convolutional Neural Networks.Cameron Buckner - 2018 - Synthese (12):1-34.
    In artificial intelligence, recent research has demonstrated the remarkable potential of Deep Convolutional Neural Networks (DCNNs), which seem to exceed state-of-the-art performance in new domains weekly, especially on the sorts of very difficult perceptual discrimination tasks that skeptics thought would remain beyond the reach of artificial intelligence. However, it has proven difficult to explain why DCNNs perform so well. In philosophy of mind, empiricists have long suggested that complex cognition is based on information derived from sensory experience, often appealing to (...)
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  • Representation Re-Construed: Construal-Based Norms for Ascribing Natural Representations.Akagi Mikio - manuscript
    Many philosophers worry that cognitive scientists apply the concept REPRESENTATION too liberally. For example, William Ramsey argues that scientists often ascribe natural representations according to the “receptor notion,” a causal account with absurd consequences. I rehabilitate the receptor notion by augmenting it with a background condition: that natural representations are ascribed only to systems construed as organisms. This Organism-Receptor account rationalizes our existing conceptual practice, including the fact that scientists in fact reject Ramsey’s absurd consequences. The Organism-Receptor account raises some (...)
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  • Explanation in Computational Neuroscience: Causal and Non-Causal.M. Chirimuuta - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3):849-880.
    This article examines three candidate cases of non-causal explanation in computational neuroscience. I argue that there are instances of efficient coding explanation that are strongly analogous to examples of non-causal explanation in physics and biology, as presented by Batterman, Woodward, and Lange. By integrating Lange’s and Woodward’s accounts, I offer a new way to elucidate the distinction between causal and non-causal explanation, and to address concerns about the explanatory sufficiency of non-mechanistic models in neuroscience. I also use this framework to (...)
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  • Mechanism or Bust? Explanation in Psychology.Lawrence A. Shapiro - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (4):1037-1059.
    ABSTRACT Proponents of mechanistic explanation have recently suggested that all explanation in the cognitive sciences is mechanistic, even functional explanation. This last claim is surprising, for functional explanation has traditionally been conceived as autonomous from the structural details that mechanistic explanations emphasize. I argue that functional explanation remains autonomous from mechanistic explanation, but not for reasons commonly associated with the phenomenon of multiple realizability. 1Introduction 2Mechanistic Explanation: A Quick Primer 3Functional Explanation: An Example 4Autonomy as Lack of Constraint 5The Price (...)
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  • Models, Mechanisms, and Coherence.Matteo Colombo, Stephan Hartmann & Robert van Iersel - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (1):181-212.
    Life-science phenomena are often explained by specifying the mechanisms that bring them about. The new mechanistic philosophers have done much to substantiate this claim and to provide us with a better understanding of what mechanisms are and how they explain. Although there is disagreement among current mechanists on various issues, they share a common core position and a seeming commitment to some form of scientific realism. But is such a commitment necessary? Is it the best way to go about mechanistic (...)
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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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  • Mechanistic Explanation in Systems Biology: Cellular Networks.Dana Matthiessen - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1):1-25.
    It is argued that once biological systems reach a certain level of complexity, mechanistic explanations provide an inadequate account of many relevant phenomena. In this article, I evaluate such claims with respect to a representative programme in systems biological research: the study of regulatory networks within single-celled organisms. I argue that these networks are amenable to mechanistic philosophy without need to appeal to some alternate form of explanation. In particular, I claim that we can understand the mathematical modelling techniques of (...)
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  • The Explanatory Role of Computation in Cognitive Science.Nir Fresco - 2012 - Minds and Machines 22 (4):353-380.
    Which notion of computation (if any) is essential for explaining cognition? Five answers to this question are discussed in the paper. (1) The classicist answer: symbolic (digital) computation is required for explaining cognition; (2) The broad digital computationalist answer: digital computation broadly construed is required for explaining cognition; (3) The connectionist answer: sub-symbolic computation is required for explaining cognition; (4) The computational neuroscientist answer: neural computation (that, strictly, is neither digital nor analogue) is required for explaining cognition; (5) The extreme (...)
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  • Psa 2018.Philsci-Archive -Preprint Volume- - unknown
    These preprints were automatically compiled into a PDF from the collection of papers deposited in PhilSci-Archive in conjunction with the PSA 2018.
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  • Models and Explanation.Alisa Bokulich - 2017 - In Lorenzo Magnani & Tommaso Wayne Bertolotti (eds.), Springer Handbook of Model-Based Science. Springer. pp. 103-118.
    Detailed examinations of scientific practice have revealed that the use of idealized models in the sciences is pervasive. These models play a central role in not only the investigation and prediction of phenomena, but in their received scientific explanations as well. This has led philosophers of science to begin revising the traditional philosophical accounts of scientific explanation in order to make sense of this practice. These new model-based accounts of scientific explanation, however, raise a number of key questions: Can the (...)
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  • Phenomenological Understanding and Electric Eels.Raoul Gervais - 2017 - Theoria. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science 32 (3):293.
    Explanations are supposed to provide us with understanding. It is common to make a distinction between genuine, scientific understanding, and the phenomenological, or ‘aha’ notion of understanding, where the former is considered epistemically relevant, the latter irrelevant. I argue that there is a variety of phenomenological understanding that does play a positive epistemic role. This phenomenological understanding involves a similarity between bodily sensations that is used as evidence for mechanistic hypotheses. As a case study, I will consider 17th and 18th (...)
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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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  • A Cautionary Contribution to the Philosophy of Explanation in the Cognitive Neurosciences.A. Nicolás Venturelli - 2016 - Minds and Machines 26 (3):259-285.
    I propose a cautionary assessment of the recent debate concerning the impact of the dynamical approach on philosophical accounts of scientific explanation in the cognitive sciences and, particularly, the cognitive neurosciences. I criticize the dominant mechanistic philosophy of explanation, pointing out a number of its negative consequences: In particular, that it doesn’t do justice to the field’s diversity and stage of development, and that it fosters misguided interpretations of dynamical models’ contribution. In order to support these arguments, I analyze a (...)
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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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  • The Fallacy of the Homuncular Fallacy.Carrie Figdor - 2018 - Belgrade Philosophical Annual 31:41-56.
    A leading theoretical framework for naturalistic explanation of mind holds that we explain the mind by positing progressively "stupider" capacities ("homunculi") until the mind is "discharged" by means of capacities that are not intelligent at all. The so-called homuncular fallacy involves violating this procedure by positing the same capacities at subpersonal levels. I argue that the homuncular fallacy is not a fallacy, and that modern-day homunculi are idle posits. I propose an alternative view of what naturalism requires that reflects how (...)
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  • Kant’s Emergence and Sellarsian Cognitive Science.Richard McDonough - 2014 - Open Journal of Philosophy 4 (1):44-53.
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  • Are Systems Neuroscience Explanations Mechanistic?Carlos Zednik - unknown
    Whereas most branches of neuroscience are thought to provide mechanistic explanations, systems neuroscience is not. Two reasons are traditionally cited in support of this conclusion. First, systems neuroscientists rarely, if ever, rely on the dual strategies of decomposition and localization. Second, they typically emphasize organizational properties over the properties of individual components. In this paper, I argue that neither reason is conclusive: researchers might rely on alternative strategies for mechanism discovery, and focusing on organization is often appropriate and consistent with (...)
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  • Functional Kinds: A Skeptical Look.Cameron Buckner - 2015 - Synthese 192 (12):3915-3942.
    The functionalist approach to kinds has suffered recently due to its association with law-based approaches to induction and explanation. Philosophers of science increasingly view nomological approaches as inappropriate for the special sciences like psychology and biology, which has led to a surge of interest in approaches to natural kinds that are more obviously compatible with mechanistic and model-based methods, especially homeostatic property cluster theory. But can the functionalist approach to kinds be weaned off its dependency on laws? Dan Weiskopf has (...)
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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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  • Mechanism or Bust? Explanation in Psychology.Lawrence A. Shapiro - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axv062.
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  • Mechanisms in Psychology: Ripping Nature at its Seams.Catherine Stinson - 2016 - Synthese 193 (5).
    Recent extensions of mechanistic explanation into psychology suggest that cognitive models are only explanatory insofar as they map neatly onto, and serve as scaffolding for more detailed neural models. Filling in those neural details is what these accounts take the integration of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to mean, and they take this process to be seamless. Critics of this view have given up on cognitive models possibly explaining mechanistically in the course of arguing for cognitive models having explanatory value independent (...)
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  • Modeling Authenticity.Daniel A. Wilkenfeld - 2016 - Res Philosophica 93 (1):245-268.
    In this paper, we explore the link between understanding and transformative decisions. Paul suggests that one important aspect of making some decisions is that we make them not just on the basis of what data from other people tell us, but based on our own acquaintance with how the decision affects us. In this paper, we draw out a parallel between the sort of reasoning that Paul argues is required for authentic decision making and the sort of epistemic grasp of (...)
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  • Performance-Similarity Reasoning as a Source for Mechanism Schema Evaluation.Raoul Gervais - forthcoming - Topoi:1-11.
    In this paper, I explicate and discuss performance-similarity reasoning as a strategy for mechanism schema evaluation, understood in Lindley Darden’s sense. This strategy involves inferring hypotheses about the mechanism responsible for cognitive capacities from premises describing the performance of those capacities; performance-similarity reasoning is a type of Inference to the Best Explanation, or IBE. Two types of such inferences are distinguished: one in which the performance of two systems is compared, and another when the performance of two systems under intervention (...)
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  • Minimal Models and Canonical Neural Computations: The Distinctness of Computational Explanation in Neuroscience.M. Chirimuuta - 2014 - Synthese 191 (2):127-153.
    In a recent paper, Kaplan (Synthese 183:339–373, 2011) takes up the task of extending Craver’s (Explaining the brain, 2007) mechanistic account of explanation in neuroscience to the new territory of computational neuroscience. He presents the model to mechanism mapping (3M) criterion as a condition for a model’s explanatory adequacy. This mechanistic approach is intended to replace earlier accounts which posited a level of computational analysis conceived as distinct and autonomous from underlying mechanistic details. In this paper I discuss work in (...)
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  • The Cognitive Neuroscience Revolution.Worth Boone & Gualtiero Piccinini - 2016 - Synthese 193 (5):1509-1534.
    We outline a framework of multilevel neurocognitive mechanisms that incorporates representation and computation. We argue that paradigmatic explanations in cognitive neuroscience fit this framework and thus that cognitive neuroscience constitutes a revolutionary break from traditional cognitive science. Whereas traditional cognitive scientific explanations were supposed to be distinct and autonomous from mechanistic explanations, neurocognitive explanations aim to be mechanistic through and through. Neurocognitive explanations aim to integrate computational and representational functions and structures across multiple levels of organization in order to explain (...)
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  • Making Mechanism Interesting.Alex Rosenberg - 2018 - Synthese 195 (1):11-33.
    I note the multitude of ways in which, beginning with the classic paper by Machamer et al., the mechanists have qualify their methodological dicta, and limit the vulnerability of their claims by strategic vagueness regarding their application. I go on to generalize a version of the mechanist requirement on explanations due to Craver and Kaplan :601–627, 2011) in cognitive and systems neuroscience so that it applies broadly across the life sciences in accordance with the view elaborated by Craver and Darden (...)
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  • The Scope and Limits of a Mechanistic View of Computational Explanation.Maria Serban - 2015 - Synthese 192 (10):3371-3396.
    An increasing number of philosophers have promoted the idea that mechanism provides a fruitful framework for thinking about the explanatory contributions of computational approaches in cognitive neuroscience. For instance, Piccinini and Bahar :453–488, 2013) have recently argued that neural computation constitutes a sui generis category of physical computation which can play a genuine explanatory role in the context of investigating neural and cognitive processes. The core of their proposal is to conceive of computational explanations in cognitive neuroscience as a subspecies (...)
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  • Redefining Physicalism.Guy Dove - 2018 - Topoi 37 (3):513-522.
    Philosophers have traditionally treated physicalism as an empirically informed metaphysical thesis. This approach faces a well-known problem often referred to as Hempel’s dilemma: formulations of physicalism tend to be either false or indeterminate. The generally preferred strategy to address this problem involves an appeal to a hypothetical complete and ideal physical theory. After demonstrating that this strategy is not viable, I argue that we should redefine physicalism as an interdisciplinary research program seeking to explain the mental in terms of the (...)
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  • Depth and Deference: When and Why We Attribute Understanding.Daniel A. Wilkenfeld, Dillon Plunkett & Tania Lombrozo - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (2):373-393.
    Four experiments investigate the folk concept of “understanding,” in particular when and why it is deployed differently from the concept of knowledge. We argue for the positions that people have higher demands with respect to explanatory depth when it comes to attributing understanding, and that this is true, in part, because understanding attributions play a functional role in identifying experts who should be heeded with respect to the general field in question. These claims are supported by our findings that people (...)
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  • Moving Parts: The Natural Alliance Between Dynamical and Mechanistic Modeling Approaches.David Michael Kaplan - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (6):757-786.
    Recently, it has been provocatively claimed that dynamical modeling approaches signal the emergence of a new explanatory framework distinct from that of mechanistic explanation. This paper rejects this proposal and argues that dynamical explanations are fully compatible with, even naturally construed as, instances of mechanistic explanations. Specifically, it is argued that the mathematical framework of dynamics provides a powerful descriptive scheme for revealing temporal features of activities in mechanisms and plays an explanatory role to the extent it is deployed for (...)
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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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  • The Central Executive System.Denis Buehler - 2018 - Synthese 195 (5):1969-1991.
    Executive functioning has been said to bear on a range of traditional philosophical topics, such as consciousness, thought, and action. Surprisingly, philosophers have not much engaged with the scientific literature on executive functioning. This lack of engagement may be due to several influential criticisms of that literature by Daniel Dennett, Alan Allport, and others. In this paper I argue that more recent research on executive functioning shows that these criticisms are no longer valid. The paper clears the way to a (...)
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