Synthese 193 (5) (2016)

Catherine Stinson
Queen's University
Recent extensions of mechanistic explanation into psychology suggest that cognitive models are only explanatory insofar as they map neatly onto, and serve as scaffolding for more detailed neural models. Filling in those neural details is what these accounts take the integration of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to mean, and they take this process to be seamless. Critics of this view have given up on cognitive models possibly explaining mechanistically in the course of arguing for cognitive models having explanatory value independent of how well they align with neural mechanisms. We can have things both ways, however. The problem with seamless integration accounts is their seamlessness, not that they take cognitive models to be mechanistic. A non-componential view of mechanisms allows for cognitive and neural models that cross cut one another, and for cognitive models that don’t decompose into parts. I illustrate the inadequacy of seamless accounts of integration by contrasting how “filter” models of attention in psychology and of sodium channels in neuroscience developed; by questioning whether the mappings generated by neuroimaging subtraction studies achieve integration; and by reinterpreting the evidence for cognitive models of memory having been successfully integrated with neural models. I argue that the integrations we can realistically expect are more partial, patchy, and full of loose threads than the mosaic unity Craver describes
Keywords Mechanism  Explanation  Integration  Cognitive psychology  Neuroscience
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2016
DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0871-5
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 59,949
External links

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

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.

View all 26 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Mechanisms in Cognitive Science.Carlos Zednik - 2017 - In Phyllis McKay Illari & Stuart Glennan (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy. London: Routledge. pp. 389-400.

View all 18 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Beyond Reduction: Mechanisms, Multifield Integration and the Unity of Neuroscience.Carl F. Craver - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):373-395.
Minds, Models and Mechanisms: A New Perspective on Intentional Psychology.Eric Hochstein - 2012 - Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 24 (4):547-557.
Dynamical Models and Explanation in Neuroscience.Lauren N. Ross - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (1):32-54.


Added to PP index

Total views
86 ( #120,476 of 2,433,231 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #213,397 of 2,433,231 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes