Dynamic mechanistic explanation: computational modeling of circadian rhythms as an exemplar for cognitive science

Two widely accepted assumptions within cognitive science are that (1) the goal is to understand the mechanisms responsible for cognitive performances and (2) computational modeling is a major tool for understanding these mechanisms. The particular approaches to computational modeling adopted in cognitive science, moreover, have significantly affected the way in which cognitive mechanisms are understood. Unable to employ some of the more common methods for conducting research on mechanisms, cognitive scientists’ guiding ideas about mechanism have developed in conjunction with their styles of modeling. In particular, mental operations often are conceptualized as comparable to the processes employed in classical symbolic AI or neural network models. These models, in turn, have been interpreted by some as themselves intelligent systems since they employ the same type of operations as does the mind. For this paper, what is significant about these approaches to modeling is that they are constructed specifically to account for behavior and are evaluated by how well they do so—not by independent evidence that they describe actual operations in mental mechanisms.
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References found in this work BETA
William Bechtel (2005). Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol and Biomed Sci 36 (2):421--441.

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William Bechtel (2010). The Cell: Locus or Object of Inquiry? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 41 (3):172-182.

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