Constructing a Philosophy of Science of Cognitive Science

Trends in Cognitive Sciences 1 (3):548-569 (2009)
Philosophy of science is positioned to make distinctive contributions to cognitive science by providing perspective on its conceptual foundations and by advancing normative recommendations. The philosophy of science I embrace is naturalistic in that it is grounded in the study of actual science. Focusing on explanation, I describe the recent development of a mechanistic philosophy of science from which I draw three normative consequences for cognitive science. First, insofar as cognitive mechanisms are information-processing mechanisms, cognitive science needs an account of how the representations invoked in cognitive mechanisms carry information about contents, and I suggest that control theory offers the needed perspective on the relation of representations to contents. Second, I argue that cognitive science requires, but is still in search of, a catalog of cognitive operations that researchers can draw upon in explaining cognitive mechanisms. Last, I provide a new perspective on the relation of cognitive science to brain sciences, one which embraces both reductive research on neural components that figure in cognitive mechanisms and a concern with recomposing higher-level mechanisms from their components and situating them in their environments
Keywords Representation  Control theory  Philosophy of science  Reduction  Recomposition  Mechanism  Explanation
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DOI 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2009.01039.x
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