Explanatory Diversity and Embodied Cognitive Science: Reflexivity Motivates Pluralism

In Mark-Oliver Casper & Giuseppe Flavio Artese (eds.), Situated Cognition Research: Methodological Foundations. Springer Verlag. pp. 51-76 (2023)
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Abstract

Explanatory diversity is a salient feature of the sciences of the mind, where different projects focus on neural, psychological, cognitive, social or other explanations. The same happens within embodied cognitive science, where ecological, enactive, dynamical, phenomenological and other approaches differ from each other in their explanations of the embodied mind. As traditionally conceived, explanatory diversity is philosophically problematic, fueling debates about whether the different explanations are competing, compatible, or tangential. In contrast, this paper takes the perspective of embodied cognitive science as its starting point and accordingly approaches explanatory diversity not as a problem to be solved, but as a phenomenon to be understood. Recent work has explored how the view of cognition as embodied motivates reflexively viewing science as a situated embodied cognitive practice. Here I argue that this reflexive turn motivates adopting a pluralistic stance when it comes to questions about theoretical and methodological disagreements. In particular, it motivates moving away from thinking in terms of explanations as disembodied entities that compete with one another, and instead thinking in terms of different explanatory styles as embodied practices of explaining, many of which might be legitimate and warranted independently of whether and how the explanations themselves relate to one another.

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Guilherme Sanches de Oliveira
Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin

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