The Nature of Dynamical Explanation

Philosophy of Science 78 (2):238-263 (2011)
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Abstract

The received view of dynamical explanation is that dynamical cognitive science seeks to provide covering law explanations of cognitive phenomena. By analyzing three prominent examples of dynamicist research, I show that the received view is misleading: some dynamical explanations are mechanistic explanations, and in this way resemble computational and connectionist explanations. Interestingly, these dynamical explanations invoke the mathematical framework of dynamical systems theory to describe mechanisms far more complex and distributed than the ones typically considered by philosophers. Therefore, contemporary dynamicist research reveals the need for a more sophisticated account of mechanistic explanation.

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Carlos Zednik
Eindhoven University of Technology