David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
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 Bechtel (2005). Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol and Biomed Sci 36 (2):421--441.
William Bechtel (2009). Looking Down, Around, and Up: Mechanistic Explanation in Psychology. Philosophical Psychology 22 (5):543-564.
Alisa Bokulich (2011). How Scientific Models Can Explain. Synthese 180 (1):33 - 45.
Citations of this work BETA
Nir Fresco (2012). The Explanatory Role of Computation in Cognitive Science. Minds and Machines 22 (4):353-380.
M. Chirimuuta (2014). Minimal Models and Canonical Neural Computations: The Distinctness of Computational Explanation in Neuroscience. Synthese 191 (2):127-153.
Justin Garson (2012). Function, Selection, and Construction in the Brain. Synthese 189 (3):451-481.
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.
William P. Bechtel (1998). Representations and Cognitive Explanations: Assessing the Dynamicist Challenge in Cognitive Science. Cognitive Science 22 (3):295-317.
Ingo Brigandt (forthcoming). Evolutionary Developmental Biology and the Limits of Philosophical Accounts of Mechanistic Explanation. In P.-A. Braillard and C. Malaterre (ed.), Explanation in Biology: An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences. Springer.
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 downloads156 ( #6,284 of 1,410,123 )
Recent downloads (6 months)15 ( #15,218 of 1,410,123 )
How can I increase my downloads?