Philosophy of Science: An Overview for Cognitive Science

Philosophy of Science: An Overview for Cognitive Science

Philosophy of Science: An Overview for Cognitive Science

Philosophy of Science: An Overview for Cognitive Science


This text focuses on two major issues: the nature of scientific inquiry and the relations between scientific disciplines. Designed to introduce the basic issues and concepts in the philosophy of science, Bechtel writes for an audience with little or no philosophical background.

The first part of the book explores the legacy of Logical Positivism and the subsequent post-Positivistic developments in the philosophy of science. The second section examines arguments for and against using a model of theory reduction to integrate scientific disciplines. The book concludes with a chapter describing non-reductionist approaches for relating scientific disciplines using psycholinguistic and cognitive neuroscience models.


As one of the several contributing disciplines to cognitive science, philosophy offers two sorts of contributions. On the one hand, philosophy of science provides a metatheoretical perspective on the endeavors of any scientific enterprise, analyzing such things as the goals of scientific investigation and the strategies employed in reaching those goals. Philosophy of science thus offers a perspective from which we can examine and potentially evaluate the endeavors of cognitive science. On the other hand, philosophy of mind offers substantive theses about the nature of mind and of mental activity. Although these theses typically have not resulted from empirical investigation, they often have subsequently figured in actual empirical investigations in cognitive science, or its predecessors. Because the two roles philosophy plays in cognitive science are quite different, they are introduced in separate volumes. This one focuses on philosophy of science, whereas issues in philosophy of mind are explored in Philosophy of Mind: An Overview for Cognitive Science.

The strategy for this volume is to present a variety of views from philosophy of science that have figured in discussions about cognitive science. Some of these views are no longer widely accepted by philosophers of science. Nonetheless, they have been and, in some cases, remain influential outside of philosophy. Moreover, some older views have provided the starting point for current philosophical thinking that is done against a backdrop of previous endeavors, with a recognition of both their success and failure.

After an introductory chapter that introduces some of the other domains of philosophy that are pertinent to philosophy of science, this book falls into two main parts. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 explore general views about the nature of science and scientific explanation. Chapter 2 focuses on Logical Positivism . . .

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