Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2008)

Paul Thagard
University of Waterloo
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary investigation of mind and intelligence, embracing psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, artificial intelligence, and philosophy. There are many important philosophical questions related to this investigation, but this short chapter will focus on the following three. What is the nature of the explanations and theories developed in cognitive science? What are the relations among the five disciplines that comprise cognitive science? What are the implications of cognitive science research for general issues in the philosophy of science? I will argue that cognitive theories and explanations depend on representations of mechanisms and that the relations among the five disciplines, especially psychology and neuroscience, depend on relations between kinds of mechanisms. These conclusions have implications for central problems in general philosophy of science such as the nature of theories, explanations, and reduction between theories at different levels
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