Integrating cognitive (neuro)science using mechanisms

Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies (2):45-67 (2016)
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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 idealizations and research heuristics employed by researchers to combine separate results and theoretical frameworks. The account is subsequently applied to an example of successful integration in the research on hippocampus and memory, and to a failure of integration in the research on mirror neurons as purportedly explanatory of sexual orientation.

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Marcin Miłkowski
Polish Academy of Sciences


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