On levels of cognitive modeling

Philosophical Psychology 18 (5):613-637 (2005)
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Abstract

The article first addresses the importance of cognitive modeling, in terms of its value to cognitive science (as well as other social and behavioral sciences). In particular, it emphasizes the use of cognitive architectures in this undertaking. Based on this approach, the article addresses, in detail, the idea of a multi-level approach that ranges from social to neural levels. In physical sciences, a rigorous set of theories is a hierarchy of descriptions/explanations, in which causal relationships among entities at a high level can be reduced to causal relationships among simpler entities at a more detailed level. We argue that a similar hierarchy makes possible an equally productive approach toward cognitive modeling. The levels of models that we conceive in relation to cognition include, at the highest level, sociological/anthropological models of collective human behavior, behavioral models of individual performance, cognitive models involving detailed mechanisms, representations, and processes, as well as biological/physiological models of neural circuits, brain regions, and other detailed biological processes.

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