Leveling the Field: Talking Levels in Cognitive Science

In A. Papafragou (ed.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX, USA: pp. 2399-2404 (2016)
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Abstract
Talk of levels is everywhere in cognitive science. Whether it is in terms of adjudicating longstanding debates or motivating foundational concepts, one cannot go far without hearing about the need to talk at different ‘levels’. Yet in spite of its widespread application and use, the concept of levels has received little sustained attention within cognitive science. This paper provides an analysis of the various ways the notion of levels has been deployed within cognitive science. The paper begins by introducing and motivating discussion via four representative accounts of levels. It then turns to outlining and relating the four accounts using two dimensions of comparison. The result is the creation of a conceptual framework that maps the logical space of levels talk, which offers an important step toward making sense of levels talk within cognitive science.
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