Explanation in Cognitive Science

The purpose of the seminar is to review explanatory methods used in cognitive science. Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary enterprise, with various research agendas and profiles, so to understand various explanatory methods it is indispensable to look at different approaches used to explain cognitive phenomena. We will start with classical computational and symbolic theories of cognition, and then look at parallel distributed processing (PDP) models, dynamical, sensorimotor and embodied theories of the mind, and behavioral robotics. It will be also important to see what is the role of mental representation in explaining cognition, on the various approaches to computer simulation and models. In a way, this seminar can be treated as an introduction to the methodology of cognitive science. This introduction stresses the explanatory pluralism in contemporary research rather than argues for a single model that would fit all needs.


The model of explanation used in cognitive science that will be reconstructed based on actual and classical research papers. Yet, we will also look at programmatic manifestos and briefly review the accounts of explanation used from philosophy of science (the covering-law model and mechanistic explanation).

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