We argue in this paper that so-called new wave reductionism fails to capture the nature of the interlevel relations between psychology and neuroscience. Bickle (1995, Psychoneural reduction of the genuinely cognitive: some accomplished facts, Philosophical Psychology, 8, 265-285; 1998, Psychoneural reduction: the new wave, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) has claimed that a (bottom-up) reduction of the psychological concepts of learning and memory to the concepts of neuroscience has in fact already been accomplished. An investigation of current research on the phenomenon (...) of long-term potentiation reveals that this claim overstates the facts. Both the psychological and the neural concepts involved have not yet stabilized and face further correction under the influence of both bottom-up and top-down selection pressures. In addition, psychological concepts often refer to functions, and functions are indispensable and irreducible. Function ascriptions pick out objective patterns involving historical factors and distal goals. This view of functions implies that psychological facts cannot be simply read off from the neurophysiological facts. Although psychological theorizing is constrained by neurophysiology (and vice versa), psychology remains distinct at least to some degree. (shrink)
The _Matter of the Mind_ addresses and illuminates the relationship between psychology and neuroscience by focusing on the topic of reduction. Written by leading philosophers in the field Discusses recent theorizing in the mind-brain sciences and reviews and weighs the evidence in favour of reductionism against the backdrop of recent important advances within psychology and the neurosciences Collects the latest work on central topics where neuroscience is now making inroads in traditional psychological terrain, such as adaptive behaviour, reward systems, consciousness, (...) and social cognition. (shrink)
The doctrine of eliminative materialism holds that belief-desire psychology is massively referentially disconnected. We claim, however, that it is not at all obvious what it means to be referentially (dis)connected. The two major accounts of reference both lead to serious difficulties for eliminativism: it seems that elimination is either impossible or omnipresent. We explore the idea that reference fixation is a much more local, partial, and context-dependent process than was supposed by the classical accounts. This pragmatic view suggests that elimination (...) is not the prime model for understanding the complex relations between the mind and brain sciences, and that we have little ground for concluding that in general psychological kinds do not exist. We suggest that reference changes are better seen as continuous rather than completely eliminative. (shrink)
Investigations into inter-level relations in computer science, biology and psychology call for an *empirical* turn in the philosophy of mind. Rather than concentrate on *a priori* discussions of inter-level relations between 'completed' sciences, a case is made for the actual study of the way inter-level relations grow out of the developing sciences. Thus, philosophical inquiries will be made more relevant to the sciences, and, more importantly, philosophical accounts of inter-level relations will be testable by confronting them with what really happens (...) in science. Hence, close observation of the ever-changing reduction relations in the developing sciences, and revision of philosophical positions based on these empirical observations, may, in the long run, be more conducive to an adequate understanding of inter-level relations than a traditional *a priori* approach. (shrink)
It is argued that John Bickle’s Ruthless Reductionism is flawed as an account of the practice of neuroscience. Examples from genetics and linguistics suggest, first, that not every mind-brain link or gene-phenotype link qualifies as a reduction or as a complete explanation, and, second, that the higher (psychological) level of analysis is not likely to disappear as neuroscience progresses. The most plausible picture of the evolving sciences of the mind-brain seems a patchwork of multiple connections and partial explanations, linking anatomy, (...) mechanisms and functions across different domains, levels, and grain sizes. Bickle’s claim that only the molecular level provides genuine explanations, and higher level concepts are just heuristics that will soon be redundant, is thus rejected. In addition, it is argued that Bickle’s recasting of philosophy of science as metascience explicating empirical practices, ignores an essential role for philosophy in reflecting upon criteria for reduction and explanation. Many interesting and complex issues remain to be investigated for the philosophy of science, and in particular the nature of interlevel links found in empirical research requires sophisticated philosophical analysis. (shrink)
Gold & Stoljar are right in rejecting the radical neuron doctrine, but we argue that their distinction between determination and explanation is not principled enough to support their conclusion. We claim that the notions of multiple supervenience and screening-off offer a more precise construal of the dissociation between explanation and determination that lies at the heart of the antireductionist position.
This review essay critically discusses Andre Kukla's Methods of theoretical psychology. It is argued that Kukla mistakenly tries to build his case for theorizing in psychology as a separate discipline on a dubious distinction between theory and observation. He then argues that the demise of empiricism implies a return of some form of rationalism, which entails an autonomous role for theorizing in psychology. Having shown how this theory-observation dichotomy goes back to traditional and largely abandoned ideas in epistemology, an alternative (...) is presented in the guise of the pragmatist or functionalist tradition, where the interdependence of theory, observation and action is emphasized and the positivist dichotomy of pure observations and pure theory is rejected. Furthermore, we show how recent work on "active" perception supports the functionalist approach. Although the authors agree with Kukla that theory has a legitimate place in psychology, it is suggested that he needlessly limits its scope to autonomous domain-neutral theorizing, and that broadening its perspective to analyzing the presuppositions and implications of empirical work is a more fruitful approach. In fact, the attempt to find the epistemological and philosophical implications of empirical work in perception that is sketched in this review essay is, in the authors' view, a case of theorizing in psychology. (shrink)