Remember my model for this course. I'm providing you with the essentials of the disciplines that contribute to cognitive science. We must understand those first, at least in broad outline, before we can understand cognitive science itself. This page may appear scary and long but that is a consequence of philosophy's long history.
History of Philosophy
Philosophy and Cognitive Science
- Philosophy is the original source of many questions yet of interest to CS
- All modern academic departments, in one way or another, owe a deep debt to philosophy
- The philosophy of cognitive science
- Part of database PhilPapers
- shows many of the current areas of interest in both disciplines
- "PhilPapers is a comprehensive index and bibliography of philosophy maintained by the community of philosophers. We monitor all sources of research content in philosophy, including journals, books, open access archives, and personal pages maintained by academics. We also host the largest open access archive in philosophy. Our index currently contains 2,554,360 entries categorized in 5,671 categories. PhilPapers has over 270,000 registered users."
- Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science
- "The philosophy of cognitive science emerged out of a set of common and overlapping interests among philosophers and scientists who study the mind. We identify five categories of issues that illustrate the best work in this broad field: (1) traditional philosophical issues about the mind that have been invigorated by research in cognitive science, (2) issues regarding the practice of cognitive science and its foundational assumptions, (3) issues regarding the explication and clarification of core concepts in cognitive science, (4) first-order empirical issues where philosophers participate in the interdisciplinary investigation of particular psychological phenomena, (5) traditional philosophical issues that aren’t about the mind but that can be informed by a better understanding of how the mind works."
- Why cognitive science needs philosophy and vice versa: Thagard
- Contrary to common views that philosophy is extraneous to cognitive science, this paper argues that philosophy has a crucial role to play in cognitive science with respect to generality and normativity.
- General questions include the nature of theories and explanations, the role of computer simulation in cognitive theorizing, and the relations among the different fields of cognitive science.
- Normative questions include whether human thinking should be Bayesian, whether decision making should maximize expected utility, and how norms should be established.
- These kinds of general and normative questions make philosophical reflection an important part of progress in cognitive science. Philosophy operates best, however, not with a priori reasoning or conceptual analysis, but rather with empirically informed reflection on a wide range of findings in cognitive science.
- Keywords: Cognitive science; Philosophy; Generality; Normativity; Theories; Explanations;Computer simulation; Bayesian inference; Decision making
- Generality: answering questions beyond disciplinary boundaries
- Normativity: understanding the difference between how things are and how they should be
- Theories and explanations: Both must be defined and researchers should especially attend to the issue of causality. Philosophers, because of their training and long history understand the big picture vis a vis theories and how to apply them across disciplines.
- Computer simulation: theories, models, and computer programs are distinct components for understanding data in cognitive science.
- Relations of the fields: As we have already seen in Nuñez et al.'s article, the original six fields of cognitive science have not all equally contributed to progress over the years. Instead, psychology has become more influential while anthropology and neuroscience have each become less involved. In addition, should the field now be called cognitive science or cognitive sciences?
- Normative questions: Normative means prescriptive (you should not get a tattoo) whereas descriptive simply reveals observations (you have red hair). How should cognitive science distinguish between these two? In other words, how should cognitive scientists make decisions that go beyond discoveries and impact on moral questions. A current example is facial recognition algorithms. Cognitive science invented those, but who should decide how to use them?
- Why philosophy needs cognitive science: Some styles of philosophy are not beneficial to cognitive science; they are: rationalist approaches (see above), analytic approaches, and postmodernist approaches. On the other hand, naturalist approaches are beneficial to cognitive science.
- Conclusions: Ignoring philosophical reflection leads to bad philosophy and to bad science. Metaphors for the relationship between philosophy and cognitive science include:
- foundation (Descartes)
- implies that philosophy must come first
- cable or chain (Peirce)
- implies a connection between the two
- ship (Neurath)
- but, a ship that must only repair itself at sea
- ants, spiders, and bees (Bacon)
- ants are the experimentalists
- spiders's webs are only made from themselves
- bees gather nectar from plants and transform that into honey by their own power
- Bacon's notion best describes the relationship between philosophy and cognitive science
Modern Subfields of Philosophy
- Moral Philosophy*
If you crave more detail on these subjects and philosophers SEE my page on them from the History of Psychology course
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