Models and mechanisms in psychological explanation

Synthese 183 (3):313-338 (2011)

Authors
Daniel Weiskopf
Georgia State University
Abstract
Mechanistic explanation has an impressive track record of advancing our understanding of complex, hierarchically organized physical systems, particularly biological and neural systems. But not every complex system can be understood mechanistically. Psychological capacities are often understood by providing cognitive models of the systems that underlie them. I argue that these models, while superficially similar to mechanistic models, in fact have a substantially more complex relation to the real underlying system. They are typically constructed using a range of techniques for abstracting the functional properties of the system, which may not coincide with its mechanistic organization. I describe these techniques and show that despite being non-mechanistic, these cognitive models can satisfy the normative constraints on good explanations
Keywords models  mechanisms  psychological explanation  cognition
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-011-9958-9
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References found in this work BETA

Unified Theories of Cognition.Allen Newell - 1990 - Harvard University Press.
Explaining the Brain.Carl F. Craver - 2009 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Explanation in Computational Neuroscience: Causal and Non-Causal.M. Chirimuuta - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3):849-880.

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