Concepts as Tools in the Experimental Generation of Knowledge in Cognitive Neuropsychology

Spontaneous Generations 4 (1):173-190 (2010)
This paper asks (a) how new scientific objects of research are onceptualized at a point in time when little is known about them, and (b) how those conceptualizations, in turn, figure in the process of investigating the phenomena in question. Contrasting my approach with existing notions of concepts and situating it in relation to existing discussions about the epistemology of experimentation, I propose to think of concepts as research tools. I elaborate on the conception of a tool that informs my account. Narrowing my focus to phenomena in cognitive neuropsychology, I then illustrate my thesis with the example of the concept of implicit memory. This account is based on an original reconstruction of the nature and function of operationism in psychology.
Keywords scientific concepts  scientific practice  epistemology of experimentation  philosophy of the cognitive and behavioral sciences
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DOI 10.4245/sponge.v4i1.11938
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