Visual cognition: Where cognition and culture meet

Philosophy of Science 73 (5):688-698 (2006)
Case studies of diverse scientific fields show how scientists use a range of resources to generate new interpretative models and to establish their plausibility as explanations of a domain. They accomplish this by manipulating imagistic representations in particular ways. I show that scientists in different domains use the same basic transformations. Common features of these transformations indicate that general cognitive strategies of interpretation, simplification, elaboration, and argumentation are at work. Social and historical studies of science emphasize the diversity of local contexts of practice. However, the existence of common strategies shows that this diversity masks an important repertoire of cognitive strategies. Scientists use this repertoire to adapt their representations to meet the cognitive demands of different contexts of practice. This paper considers the implications of this finding for the notion of scientists as cognitive agents in distributed knowledge-producing systems.
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Mathieu Charbonneau (2013). The Cognitive Life of Mechanical Molecular Models. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):585-594.
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