Philosophical Psychology 29 (6):826-843 (2016)

Riana Betzler
Washington University in St. Louis
Philosophers of science have offered several definitions of mechanism, most of which have biological or neuroscientific roots. In this paper, I consider whether these definitions apply equally well to cognitive science. I examine this question by looking at the case of statistical learning, which has been called a domain-general learning mechanism in the cognitive scientific literature. I argue that statistical learning does not constitute a mechanism in the philosophical sense of the term. This conclusion points to significant limitations in the scope of the mechanist philosophy when it comes to accounting for explanation in cognitive science.
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DOI 10.1080/09515089.2016.1167179
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