David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese 183 (3):313-338 (2011)
Mechanistic explanation has an impressive track record of advancing our understanding of complex, hierarchically organized physical systems, particularly biological and neural systems. But not every complex system can be understood mechanistically. Psychological capacities are often understood by providing cognitive models of the systems that underlie them. I argue that these models, while superficially similar to mechanistic models, in fact have a substantially more complex relation to the real underlying system. They are typically constructed using a range of techniques for abstracting the functional properties of the system, which may not coincide with its mechanistic organization. I describe these techniques and show that despite being non-mechanistic, these cognitive models can satisfy the normative constraints on good explanations
|Keywords||models mechanisms psychological explanation cognition|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
William C. Wimsatt (2007). Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality. Harvard University Press.
Carl F. Craver (2007). Explaining the Brain: Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience. Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press.
Allen Newell (1990). Unified Theories of Cognition. Harvard University Press.
Gregory L. Murphy (2004). The Big Book of Concepts. The MIT Press.
Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver (2000). Thinking About Mechanisms. Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Citations of this work BETA
Worth Boone & Gualtiero Piccinini (2016). The Cognitive Neuroscience Revolution. Synthese 193 (5):1509-1534.
M. Chirimuuta (2014). Minimal Models and Canonical Neural Computations: The Distinctness of Computational Explanation in Neuroscience. Synthese 191 (2):127-153.
Nir Fresco (2012). The Explanatory Role of Computation in Cognitive Science. Minds and Machines 22 (4):353-380.
Daniel A. Wilkenfeld, Dillon Plunkett & Tania Lombrozo (2016). Depth and Deference: When and Why We Attribute Understanding. Philosophical Studies 173 (2):373-393.
Cameron Buckner (2015). Functional Kinds: A Skeptical Look. Synthese 192 (12):3915-3942.
Similar books and articles
Cory D. Wright & William P. Bechtel (2007). Mechanisms and Psychological Explanation. In Paul Thagard (ed.), Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science. Elsevier
Phyllis McKay Illari & Jon Williamson (2011). Mechanisms Are Real and Local. In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. OUP Oxford
Carl F. Craver (2006). When Mechanistic Models Explain. Synthese 153 (3):355-376.
L. R. Franklin-Hall (forthcoming). New Mechanistic Explanation and the Need for Explanatory Constraints. In Ken Aizawa & Carl Gillett (eds.), Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground. Palgrave
William P. Bechtel (1998). Representations and Cognitive Explanations: Assessing the Dynamicist Challenge in Cognitive Science. Cognitive Science 22 (3):295-317.
Ingo Brigandt (2015). Evolutionary Developmental Biology and the Limits of Philosophical Accounts of Mechanistic Explanation. In P.-A. Braillard & C. Malaterre (eds.), Explanation in Biology: An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences. Springer 135–173.
David Michael Kaplan (2011). Explanation and Description in Computational Neuroscience. Synthese 183 (3):339-373.
Sam S. Rakover (1997). Can Psychology Provide a Coherent Account of Human Behavior? A Proposed Multiexplanation-Model Theory. Behavior and Philosophy 25 (1):43 - 76.
David M. Kaplan & William Bechtel (2011). Dynamical Models: An Alternative or Complement to Mechanistic Explanations? Topics in Cognitive Science 3 (2):438-444.
Alexander Gebharter & Marie I. Kaiser (2014). Causal Graphs and Biological Mechanisms. In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the special sciences: The case of biology and history. Springer 55-85.
Carlos Zednik (2011). The Nature of Dynamical Explanation. Philosophy of Science 78 (2):238-263.
William Bechtel & Cory D. Wright (2009). What is Psychological Explanation? In P. Calvo & J. Symons (eds.), Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Psychology. Routledge 113--130.
Bert Leuridan (2010). Can Mechanisms Really Replace Laws of Nature? Philosophy of Science 77 (3):317-340.
William Bechtel & Adele Abrahamsen (2010). Dynamic Mechanistic Explanation: Computational Modeling of Circadian Rhythms as an Exemplar for Cognitive Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (3):321-333.
Added to index2011-03-11
Total downloads204 ( #14,042 of 1,797,096 )
Recent downloads (6 months)23 ( #32,302 of 1,797,096 )
How can I increase my downloads?