Appraisal of certain methodologies in cognitive science based on Lakatos’s methodology of scientific research programmes

Synthese 199 (Suppl 1):89-112 (2020)
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Abstract

Attempts to apply the mathematical tools of dynamical systems theory to cognition in a systematic way has been well under way since the early 90s and has been recognised as a “third contender” to computationalist and connectionist approaches :441–463, 1996). Nevertheless, it was also realised that such an application will not lead to a solid paradigm as straightforwardly as was initially hoped. In this paper I explicate a method for assessing such proposals by drawing upon Lakatos’s Criticism and the growth of knowledge, Cambridge University Press, London, pp 91–195, 1970) methodology of scientific research programs. MSRP focuses on the heuristics of a particular field and gauges the model/theory building stratagems by reference to theoretical and empirical progress, on the one hand, and the continuity and the autonomy of the way the field’s heuristic generates its series of models/theories, on the other. The requirement of continuity and autonomy afford distinct senses of ad hoc-ness, which serve as an effective tool to detect various subtleties which may otherwise be missed: the present approach identifies shortcomings missed by Chemero’s radical embodied cognitive science and falsifies Chemero’s claim that the methodological powers of his model-based account is on a par with computationalism. In general, I claim that MSRP is relevant to current methodological issues in cognitive science and can supplement debates regarding “local” assessments of methodologies, such as that between mechanical versus covering-law explanations. MSRP must at least be viewed as a necessary constraint for any methodological considerations in cognitive science.

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Haydar Oğuz Erdin
Sabanci University

References found in this work

The Language of Thought.J. A. Fodor - 1978 - Critica 10 (28):140-143.
Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes.Imre Lakatos - 1970 - In Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge. Cambridge [Eng.]: Cambridge University Press. pp. 91-196.
Studies in the Logic of Explanation.Carl Hempel & Paul Oppenheim - 1948 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 14 (2):133-133.
A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition and Action.David Morris, E. Thelen & L. B. Smith - 1997 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 11 (2).

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