Problems in the development of cognitive neuroscience: Effective communication between scientific domains

Philosophy of Science 1986:183 - 197 (1986)
This is one of a series of reports of a case study of the convergence of molecular neurobiology and cognitive studies of Pavlovian conditioning. Here, I examine a fundamental disagreement between major centers of research representing each of these two domains and analyze it in terms of a hybrid historical, sociological, and philosophical concept of effective scientific communication. The specific example considered is found to fall short of the criteria for effective communication because of the absence of explicit, published reciprocity in the exchange of critical appraisal of results and in requests for reformulation of investigative priorities, research designs, and criteria of scientific adequacy. The situation is dramatized and a remedy proposed by means of an imaginary dialogue linking the two research centers. The paper raises a number of key issues. (1) means for appraising the epistemic status of explanations putatively linking domains in the absence of effective scientific communication; (2) the influence of socially contingent features of the cognitive perspectives of the relatively small number of scientific translators responsible for such communication between domains; and (3) the status of dialogues of the sort presented here, e.g., as idealized philosophical critique or conjectural history of the future of science
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