Synthese 177 (2):261-283 (2010)

Authors
Jacqueline Anne Sullivan
University of Western Ontario
Abstract
The Morris water maze has been put forward in the philosophy of neuroscience as an example of an experimental arrangement that may be used to delineate the cognitive faculty of spatial memory (e.g., Craver and Darden, Theory and method in the neurosciences, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 2001; Craver, Explaining the brain: Mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007). However, in the experimental and review literature on the water maze throughout the history of its use, we encounter numerous responses to the question of “what” phenomenon it circumscribes ranging from cognitive functions (e.g., “spatial learning”, “spatial navigation”), to representational changes (e.g., “cognitive map formation”) to terms that appear to refer exclusively to observable changes in behavior (e.g., “water maze performance”). To date philosophical analyses of the water maze have not been directed at sorting out what phenomenon the device delineates nor the sources of the different answers to the question of what. I undertake both of these tasks in this paper. I begin with an analysis of Morris’s first published research study using the water maze and demonstrate that he emerged from it with an experimental learning paradigm that at best circumscribed a discrete set of observable changes in behavior. However, it delineated neither a discrete set of representational changes nor a discrete cognitive function. I cite this in combination with a reductionist-oriented research agenda in cellular and molecular neurobiology dating back to the 1980s as two sources of the lack of consistency across the history of the experimental and review literature as to what is under study in the water maze.
Keywords Cognition  Experimental learning paradigm  Mechanisms  Reliability  Spatial memory
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-010-9849-5
Options
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: 63,323
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

Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Cognitive Maps in Rats and Men.Edward C. Tolman - 1948 - Psychological Review 55 (4):189-208.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 22 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Ambiguous Heritage and Perpetual Promise of Liberal Theology1.Wesley J. Wildman - 2011 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 32 (1):43 - 61.
The Meaning of “Water”: An Unsolved Problem.William Lycan - 2006 - Philosophical Issues 16 (1):184-199.
The Ghostly Illusion of Freewill.Brent Silby - 2012 - Cafe Philosophy 4 (Jan/Feb 2012).
Sorting Out Ethics.R. M. Hare - 2000 - Clarendon Press.
Discovering Mechanisms in Neurobiology: The Case of Spatial Memory.Carl F. Craver & Lindley Darden - 2001 - In P.K. Machamer, Rick Grush & Peter McLaughlin (eds.), Theory and Method in Neuroscience. Pittsburgh: University of Pitt Press. pp. 112--137.
Water is Not H 2 O.B. C. Malt - 1994 - Cognitive Psychology 27:41--70.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2010-11-30

Total views
115 ( #93,069 of 2,448,721 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #445,641 of 2,448,721 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes