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Mental Kinematics

Barack, David L (2020) Mental Kinematics. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Dynamical systems play a central role in explanations in cognitive neuroscience. The grounds for these explanations are hotly debated and generally fall under two approaches: non-mechanistic and mechanistic. In this paper, I first outline a neurodynamical explanatory schema that highlights the role of dynamical systems in cognitive phenomena. I next explore the mechanistic status of such neurodynamical explanations. I argue that these explanations satisfy only some of the constraints on mechanistic explanation and should be considered pseudomechanistic explanations. I defend this argument against three alternative interpretations of the neurodynamical explanatory schema. The independent interpretation holds that neurodynamical explanations and mechanisms are independent. The constitutive interpretation holds that neurodynamical explanations are constitutive but otherwise non-mechanistic. Both the independent and constitutive interpretations fail to account for all the features of neurodynamical explanations. The partial interpretation assumes that the targets of dynamical systems models are mechanisms and so holds that neurodynamical explanations are incomplete because they lack mechanistic details. I contend instead that the targets of those models are dynamical systems distinct from mechanisms and defend this claim against several objections. I conclude with a defense of the pseudomechanistic interpretation and a discussion of the source of their explanatory power in relation to a causal-mechanical description of the world.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Barack, David Ldbarack@gmail.com0000-0001-7131-4638
Additional Information: Forthcoming Synthese
Keywords: dynamical systems, cognition, mechanism, explanation
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Neuroscience > Cognitive Neuroscience
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
Depositing User: Dr David Barack
Date Deposited: 29 May 2020 03:31
Last Modified: 29 May 2020 03:31
Item ID: 17254
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Neuroscience > Cognitive Neuroscience
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
Date: 2020
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17254

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