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  1. William P. Bechtel, Mental Mechanisms: Philosophical Perspectives on the Sciences of Cognition and the Brain.
    1. The Naturalistic Turn in Philosophy of Science 2. The Framework of Mechanistic Explanation: Parts, Operations, and Organization 3. Representing and Reasoning About Mechanisms 4. Mental Mechanisms: Mechanisms that Process Information 5. Discovering Mental Mechanisms 6 . Summary.
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  2. William P. Bechtel (forthcoming). The Epistemology of Evidence in Cognitive Neuroscience. In R. Skipper Jr, C. Allen, R. A. Ankeny, C. F. Craver, L. Darden, G. Mikkelson & and R. Richardson (eds.), Philosophy and the Life Sciences: A Reader. Mit Press.
    It is no secret that scientists argue. They argue about theories. But even more, they argue about the evidence for theories. Is the evidence itself trustworthy? This is a bit surprising from the perspective of traditional empiricist accounts of scientific methodology according to which the evidence for scientific theories stems from observation, especially observation with the naked eye. These accounts portray the testing of scientific theories as a matter of comparing the predictions of the theory with the data generated by (...)
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  3. William P. Bechtel & Andrew Hamilton (2007). Reduction, Integration, and the Unity of Science: Natural, Behavioral, and Social Sciences and the Humanities. In T. Kuipers (ed.), Philosophy of Science: Focal Issues (Volume 1 of the Handbook of the Philosophy of Science). Elsevier.
    1. A Historical Look at Unity 2. Field Guide to Modern Concepts of Reduction and Unity 3. Kitcher's Revisionist Account of Unification 4. Critics of Unity 5. Integration Instead of Unity 6. Reduction via Mechanisms 7. Case Studies in Reduction and Unification across the Disciplines.
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  4. Cory D. Wright & William P. Bechtel (2007). Mechanisms and Psychological Explanation. In Paul Thagard (ed.), Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science. Elsevier.
    As much as assumptions about mechanisms and mechanistic explanation have deeply affected psychology, they have received disproportionately little analysis in philosophy. After a historical survey of the influences of mechanistic approaches to explanation of psychological phenomena, we specify the nature of mechanisms and mechanistic explanation. Contrary to some treatments of mechanistic explanation, we maintain that explanation is an epistemic activity that involves representing and reasoning about mechanisms. We discuss the manner in which mechanistic approaches serve to bridge levels rather than (...)
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  5. Adele A. Abrahamsen & William P. Bechtel (2006). Phenomena and Mechanisms: Putting the Symbolic, Connectionist, and Dynamical Systems Debate in Broader Perspective. In R. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Basil Blackwell.
    Cognitive science is, more than anything else, a pursuit of cognitive mechanisms. To make headway towards a mechanistic account of any particular cognitive phenomenon, a researcher must choose among the many architectures available to guide and constrain the account. It is thus fitting that this volume on contemporary debates in cognitive science includes two issues of architecture, each articulated in the 1980s but still unresolved:
    • Just how modular is the mind? (section 1) – a debate initially pitting encapsulated (...)
    Our project here is to consider the second issue within the broader context of where cognitive science has been and where it is headed. The notion that cognition in general—not just language processing—involves rules operating on language-like representations actually predates cognitive science. In traditional philosophy of mind, mental life is construed as involving propositional attitudes—that is, such attitudes towards propositions as believing, fearing, and desiring that they be true—and logical inferences from them. On this view, if a person desires that a proposition be true and believes that if she performs a certain action it will become true, she will make the inference and (absent any overriding consideration) perform the action. (shrink)
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  6. William P. Bechtel, Mental Mechanisms: What Are the Operations?
    trying to explain these reactions in terms of changes in ele- began trying to characterize physiological processes in.
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  7. William P. Bechtel (2005). The Challenge of Characterizing Operations in the Mechanisms Underlying Behavior. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior 84:313-325.
    Neuroscience and cognitive science seek to explain behavioral regularities in terms of underlying mechanisms. An important element of a mechanistic explanation is a characterization of the operations of the parts of the mechanism. The challenge in characterizing such operations is illustrated by an example from the history of physiological chemistry in which some investigators tried to characterize the internal operations in the same terms as the overall physiological system while others appealed to elemental chemistry. In order for biochemistry to become (...)
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  8. Carl F. Craver & William P. Bechtel, Explaining Top-Down Causation (Away).
     
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  9. Daniel A. Weiskopf & William P. Bechtel (2004). Remarks on Fodor on Having Concepts. Mind and Language 19 (1):48-56.
    Fodor offers a novel argument against Bare-bones Concept Pragmatism (BCP). He alleges that there are two circularities in BCP’s account of concept possession: a circularity in explaining concept possession in terms of the capacity to sort; and a circularity in explaining concept possession in terms of the capacity to draw inferences. We argue that neither of these circles is real.
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  10. Tadeusz Zawidski & William P. Bechtel (2004). Gall's Legacy Revisited: Decomposition and Localization in Cognitive Neuroscience. In Christina E. Erneling & David Martel Johnson (eds.), Mind As a Scientific Object. Oxford University Press.
     
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  11. William P. Bechtel (2002). Aligning Multiple Research Techniques in Cognitive Neuroscience: Why Is It Important? Philosophy of Science 69 (S3):S48-S58.
    The need to align multiple experimental procedures and produce converging results so as to demonstrate that the phenomenon under investigation is real and not an artifact is a commonplace both in scientific practice and discussions of scientific methodology (Campbell and Stanley 1963; Wimsatt 1981). Although sometimes this is the purpose of aligning techniques, often there is a different purpose—multiple techniques are sought to supply different perspectives on the phenomena under investigation that need to be integrated to answer the questions scientists (...)
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  12. William P. Bechtel (2002). Decomposing the Brain: A Long Term Pursuit. [REVIEW] Brain and Mind 3 (1):229-242.
    This paper defends cognitive neuroscience’s project of developing mechanistic explan- ations of cognitive processes through decomposition and localization against objections raised by William Uttal in The New Phrenology. The key issue between Uttal and researchers pursuing cognitive neuroscience is that Uttal bets against the possibility of decomposing mental operations into component elementary operations which are localized in distinct brain regions. The paper argues that it is through advancing and revising what are likely to be overly simplistic and incorrect decompositions that (...)
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  13. William P. Bechtel (2001). Cognitive Neuroscienec: Relating Neural Mechanisms and Cognition. In Peter K. Machamer, Peter McLaughlin & Rick Grush (eds.), Theory and Method in the Neurosciences. University of Pittsburgh Press.
  14. William P. Bechtel (2001). Decomposing and Localizing Vision: An Exemplar for Cognitive Neuroscience. In William P. Bechtel, Pete Mandik, Jennifer Mundale & Robert S. Stufflebeam (eds.), Philosophy and the Neurosciences: A Reader. Blackwell. 225--249.
  15. William P. Bechtel (2001). The Compatibility of Complex Systems and Reduction: A Case Analysis of Memory Research. [REVIEW] Minds and Machines 11 (4):483-502.
    Some theorists who emphasize the complexity of biological and cognitive systems and who advocate the employment of the tools of dynamical systems theory in explaining them construe complexity and reduction as exclusive alternatives. This paper argues that reduction, an approach to explanation that decomposes complex activities and localizes the components within the complex system, is not only compatible with an emphasis on complexity, but provides the foundation for dynamical analysis. Explanation via decomposition and localization is nonetheless extremely challenging, and an (...)
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  16. William P. Bechtel, Pete Mandik, Jennifer Mundale & Robert S. Stufflebeam (eds.) (2001). Philosophy and the Neurosciences: A Reader. Blackwell.
    2. Daugman, J. G. Brain metaphor and brain theory 3. Mundale, J. Neuroanatomical Foundations of Cognition: Connecting the Neuronal Level with the Study of Higher Brain Areas.
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  17. William P. Bechtel & Robert S. Stufflebeam (2001). Epistemic Issues in Procuring Evidence About the Brain: The Importance of Research Instruments and Techniques. In William P. Bechtel, Pete Mandik, Jennifer Mundale & Robert S. Stufflebeam (eds.), Philosophy and the Neurosciences: A Reader. Blackwell. 55--81.
  18. William P. Bechtel & Robert N. McCauley (1999). Heuristic Identity Theory (or Back to the Future): The Mind-Body Problem Against the Background of Research Strategies in Cognitive Neuroscience. In Martin Hahn & S. C. Stoness (eds.), Proceedings of the 21st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Lawrence Erlbaum. 67-72.
    Functionalists in philosophy of mind traditionally raise two major arguments against the type identity theory: (1) psychological states are _multiply realizable_ so that there are no one-to-one mappings of psychological states onto neural states and (2) the most that evidence could ever establish is the _correlation_ of psychological and neural states, not their identity. We defend a variant on the traditional type identity theory which we call _heuristic identity theory_ (HIT) against both of these objections. Drawing its inspiration from scientific (...)
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  19. William P. Bechtel & Jennifer Mundale (1999). Multiple Realizability Revisited: Linking Cognitive and Neural States. Philosophy of Science 66 (2):175-207.
    The claim of the multiple realizability of mental states by brain states has been a major feature of the dominant philosophy of mind of the late 20th century. The claim is usually motivated by evidence that mental states are multiply realized, both within humans and between humans and other species. We challenge this contention by focusing on how neuroscientists differentiate brain areas. The fact that they rely centrally on psychological measures in mapping the brain and do so in a comparative (...)
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  20. William P. Bechtel (1998). Representations and Cognitive Explanations: Assessing the Dynamicist Challenge in Cognitive Science. Cognitive Science 22 (3):295-317.
    Advocates of dynamical systems theory (DST) sometimes employ revolutionary rhetoric. In an attempt to clarify how DST models differ from others in cognitive science, I focus on two issues raised by DST: the role for representations in mental models and the conception of explanation invoked. Two features of representations are their role in standing-in for features external to the system and their format. DST advocates sometimes claim to have repudiated the need for stand-ins in DST models, but I argue that (...)
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  21. William P. Bechtel, Dynamics and Decomposition: Are They Compatible?
    Much of cognitive neuroscience as well as traditional cognitive science is engaged in a quest for mechanisms through a project of decomposition and localization of cognitive functions. Some advocates of the emerging dynamical systems approach to cognition construe it as in opposition to the attempt to decompose and localize functions. I argue that this case is not established and rather explore how dynamical systems tools can be used to analyze and model cognitive functions without abandoning the use of decomposition and (...)
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  22. William P. Bechtel & Robert S. Stufflebeam (1997). PET: Exploring the Myth and the Method. Philosophy of Science 64 (4):S95 - S106.
    New research tools such as PET can produce dramatic results. But they can also produce dramatic artifacts. Why is PET to be trusted? We examine both the rationale that justifies interpreting PET as measuring brain activity and the strategies for interpreting PET results functionally. We show that functional ascriptions with PET make important assumptions and depend critically on relating PET results to those secured through other research techniques.
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  23. Jennifer Mundale & William P. Bechtel, Multiple Realizability Revisited.
    The claim of the multiple realizability of mental states by brain states has been a major feature of the dominant philosophy of mind of the late 20th century. The claim is usually motivated by evidence that mental states are multiply realized, both within humans and between humans and other species. We challenge this contention by focusing on how neuroscientists differentiate brain areas. The fact that they rely centrally on psychological measures in mapping the brain and do so in a comparative (...)
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  24. Robert S. Stufflebeam & William P. Bechtel (1997). PET: Exploring the Myth and the Method. Philsophy of Science 64 (4):95-106.
    New research tools such as PET can produce dramatic results. But they can also produce dramatic artifacts. Why is PET to be trusted? We examine both the rationale that justifies interpreting PET as measuring brain activity and the strategies for interpreting PET results functionally. We show that functional ascriptions with PET make important assumptions and depend critically on relating PET results to those secured through other research techniques.
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  25. Jonathan A. Waskan & William P. Bechtel (1997). Directions in Connectionist Research: Tractable Computations Without Syntactically Structured Representations. Metaphilosophy 28 (1‐2):31-62.
    Figure 1: A pr ototyp ical exa mple of a three-layer feed forward network, used by Plunkett and M archm an (1 991 ) to simulate learning the past-tense of En glish verbs. The inpu t units encode representations of the three phonemes of the present tense of the artificial words used in this simulation. Th e netwo rk is trained to produce a representation of the phonemes employed in the past tense form and the suffix (/d/, /ed/, or /t/) (...)
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  26. William P. Bechtel (1996). The Churchlands and Their Critics. Oup.
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  27. William P. Bechtel (1996). What Knowledge Must Be in the Head in Order to Acquire Language. In B. Velichkovsky & Duane M. Rumbaugh (eds.), Communicating Meaning: The Evolution and Development of Language. Hillsdale, Nj: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 45.
    Many studies of language, whether in philosophy, linguistics, or psychology, have focused on highly developed human languages. In their highly developed forms, such as are employed in scientific discourse, languages have a unique set of properties that have been the focus of much attention. For example, descriptive sentences in a language have the property of being "true" or "false," and words of a language have senses and referents. Sentences in a language are structured in accord with complex syntactic rules. Theorists (...)
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  28. William P. Bechtel (1996). What Should a Connectionist Philosophy of Science Look Like? In Robert N. McCauley (ed.), The Churchlands and Their Critics. Oup. 121--144.
    The reemergence of connectionism2 has profoundly altered the philosophy of mind. Paul Churchland has argued that it should equally transform the philosophy of science. He proposes that connectionism offers radical and useful new ways of understanding theories and explanations.
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  29. William P. Bechtel (1996). Yet Another Revolution? Defusing the Dynamical System Theorists' Attack on Mental Representations. Presidential Address to Society of Philosophy and Psychology.
     
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  30. William P. Bechtel & Jennifer Mundale (1996). Integrating Neuroscience, Psychology, and Evolutionary Biology Through a Teleological Conception of Function. Minds and Machines 6 (4):481-505.
    The idea of integrating evolutionary biology and psychology has great promise, but one that will be compromised if psychological functions are conceived too abstractly and neuroscience is not allowed to play a contructive role. We argue that the proper integration of neuroscience, psyychology, and evolutionary biology requires a telelogical as opposed to a merely componential analysis of function. A teleological analysis is required in neuroscience itself; we point to traditional and curent research methods in neuroscience, which make critical use of (...)
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  31. Jennifer Mundale & William P. Bechtel (1996). Integrating Neuroscience, Psychology, and Evolutionary Biology Through a Teleological Conception of Function. Minds and Machines 6 (4):481-505.
    The idea of integrating evolutionary biology and psychology has great promise, but one that will be compromised if psychological functions are conceived too abstractly and neuroscience is not allowed to play a contructive role. We argue that the proper integration of neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology requires a telelogical as opposed to a merely componential analysis of function. A teleological analysis is required in neuroscience itself; we point to traditional and curent research methods in neuroscience, which make critical use of (...)
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  32. William P. Bechtel (1995). Consciousness: Perspectives From Symbolic and Connectionist AI. Neuropsychologia.
    For many people, consciousness is one of the defining characteristics of mental states. Thus, it is quite surprising that consciousness has, until quite recently, had very little role to play in the cognitive sciences. Three very popular multi-authored overviews of cognitive science, Stillings et al. [33], Posner [26], and Osherson et al. [25], do not have a single reference to consciousness in their indexes. One reason this seems surprising is that the cognitive revolution was, in large part, a repudiation of (...)
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  33. William P. Bechtel (1994). Levels of Description and Explanation in Cognitive Science. Minds and Machines 4 (1):1-25.
    The notion of levels has been widely used in discussions of cognitive science, especially in discussions of the relation of connectionism to symbolic modeling of cognition. I argue that many of the notions of levels employed are problematic for this purpose, and develop an alternative notion grounded in the framework of mechanistic explanation. By considering the source of the analogies underlying both symbolic modeling and connectionist modeling, I argue that neither is likely to provide an adequate analysis of processes at (...)
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  34. William P. Bechtel (1994). Natural Deduction in Connectionist Systems. Synthese 101 (3):433-463.
    The relation between logic and thought has long been controversial, but has recently influenced theorizing about the nature of mental processes in cognitive science. One prominent tradition argues that to explain the systematicity of thought we must posit syntactically structured representations inside the cognitive system which can be operated upon by structure sensitive rules similar to those employed in systems of natural deduction. I have argued elsewhere that the systematicity of human thought might better be explained as resulting from the (...)
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  35. William P. Bechtel (1993). Decomposing Intentionality: Perspectives on Intentionality Drawn From Language Research with Two Species of Chimpanzees. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 8 (1):1-32.
    In philosophy the term intentionality refers to the feature possessed by mental states of beingabout things others than themselves. A serious question has been how to explain the intentionality of mental states. This paper starts with linguistic representations, and explores how an organism might use linguistic symbols to represent other things. Two research projects of Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, one explicity teaching twopan troglodytes to use lexigrams intentionally, and the other exploring the ability of several members ofpan paniscus to learn lexigram use (...)
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  36. William P. Bechtel (1993). The Case for Connectionism. Philosophical Studies 71 (2):119-54.
  37. William P. Bechtel (1993). The Path Beyond First-Order Connectionism. Mind and Language 8 (4):531-539.
  38. William P. Bechtel & Adele A. Abrahamsen (1992). Connectionism and the Future of Folk Psychology. In Robert G. Burton (ed.), Minds: Natural and Artificial. SUNY Press.
  39. William P. Bechtel & A. Abrahamson (1990). Beyond the Exclusively Propositional Era. Synthese 82 (2):223-53.
    Contemporary epistemology has assumed that knowledge is represented in sentences or propositions. However, a variety of extensions and alternatives to this view have been proposed in other areas of investigation. We review some of these proposals, focusing on (1) Ryle's notion of knowing how and Hanson's and Kuhn's accounts of theory-laden perception in science; (2) extensions of simple propositional representations in cognitive models and artificial intelligence; (3) the debate concerning imagistic versus propositional representations in cognitive psychology; (4) recent treatments of (...)
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  40. William P. Bechtel (1988). Connectionism and Rules and Representation Systems: Are They Compatible? Philosophical Psychology 1 (1):5-16.
    The introduction of connectionist or parallel distributed processing (PDP) systems to model cognitive functions has raised the question of the possible relations between these models and traditional information processing models which employ rules to manipulate representations. After presenting a brief account of PDP models and two ways in which they are commonly interpreted by those seeking to use them to explain cognitive functions, I present two ways one might relate these models to traditional information processing models and so not totally (...)
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  41. William P. Bechtel (1988). Philosophy of Mind: An Overview for Cognitive Science. Lawrence Erlbaum.
    Specifically designed to make the philosophy of mind intelligible to those not trained in philosophy, this book provides a concise overview for students and researchers in the cognitive sciences. Emphasizing the relevance of philosophical work to investigations in other cognitive sciences, this unique text examines such issues as the meaning of language, the mind-body problem, the functionalist theories of cognition, and intentionality. As he explores the philosophical issues, Bechtel draws connections between philosophical views and theoretical and experimental work in such (...)
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  42. William P. Bechtel (1987). Connectionism and the Philosophy of Mind. Southern Journal of Philosophy Supplement 26:17-41.
     
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  43. William P. Bechtel (1987). Psycholinguistics as a Case of Cross-Disciplinary Research. Synthese 72 (September):293-311.
    In setting a framework for the papers that follow, I have explored some of the major characteristics of disciplines and the factors that breed ethnocentrism among disciplines, considered what factors can lead researchers to cross disciplinary boundaries, and explored the kinds of conceptual as well as social and institutional products that result from cross-disciplinary work. While drawing out the significance of these various considerations for psycholinguistics, I have presented a fairly general conceptual analysis that is not restricted to this case. (...)
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  44. William P. Bechtel (1986). What Happens to Accounts of Mind-Brain Relations If We Forgo an Architecture of Rules and Representations? Philosophy of Science Association 1986:159 - 171.
    The notion that the mind is a physical symbol system (Newell) with a determinate functional architecture (Pylyshyn) provides a compelling conception of the relation of cognitive inquiry to neuroscience inquiry: cognitive inquiry explores the activity within the symbol system while neuroscience explains how the symbol system is realized in the brain. However, the view the the mind is a physical symbol system is being challenged today by researchers in artificial intelligence who propose that the mind is a connectionist system and (...)
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  45. William P. Bechtel (1985). Are the New PDP Models of Cognition Cognitivist or Associationist? Behaviorism 13:53-61.
     
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  46. William P. Bechtel (1985). Contemporary Connectionism: Are the New Parallel Distributed Processing Models Cognitive or Associationist? Behaviorism 13 (1):53-61.
  47. William P. Bechtel (1985). Realism, Instrumentalism, and the Intentional Stance. Cognitive Science 9 (4):265-92.
  48. William P. Bechtel (1984). Autonomous Psychology: What It Should and Should Not Entail. Philosophy of Science Association 1984:43 - 55.
    In the wake of the cognitivist revolution in psychology, a number of philosophers (e.g., Putnam and Fodor) have argued that the functional ontology underlying cognitivism allows for the autonomy of psychology from neuroscience. It is contended that these arguments do not support the kind of autonomy proposed and that, in any case, such autonomy would be misguided. The last claim is supported by considering the consequences such autonomy would have for a number of research programmes in cognitive psychology. It is (...)
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  49. William P. Bechtel (1983). A Bridge Between Cognitive Science and Neuroscience: The Functional Architecture of Mind. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 44 (November):319-30.
  50. William P. Bechtel & Robert C. Richardson (1983). Consciousness and Complexity: Evolutionary Perspectives on the Mind-Body Problem. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (December):378-95.
    (1983). Consciousness and complexity: Evolutionary perspectives on the mind-body problem. Australasian Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 61, No. 4, pp. 378-395.
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