• Mechanism schemata are one of the least understood parts of MDC’s account of mechanistic explanation. Relatedly, there is a common misconception that there is no place for abstraction in MDC mechanisms. These two problems can be remedied by looking more carefully at what MDC say both in their 2000 paper and elsewhere about schemata and abstraction, and by following up on a comment of Machamer’s indicating that Piaget was the inspiration for schemata. Darden’s work on mechanism discovery reveals …Read more
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    There is a vast literature within philosophy of mind that focuses on artificial intelligence, but hardly mentions methodological questions. There is also a growing body of work in philosophy of science about modeling methodology that hardly mentions examples from cognitive science. Here these discussions are connected. Insights developed in the philosophy of science literature about the importance of idealization provide a way of understanding the neural implausibility of connectionist networks.…Read more
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    Discussions of psychiatric nosology focus on a few popular examples of disorders, and on the validity of diagnostic criteria. Looking at Anorexia Nervosa, an example rarely mentioned in this literature, reveals a new problem: the DSM has a strict taxonomic structure, which assumes that disorders can only be located on one branch. This taxonomic assumption fails to fit the domain of psychopathology, resulting in obfuscation of cross-category connections. Poor outcomes for treatment of Anorexia ma…Read more
  •  93
    Recent extensions of mechanistic explanation into psychology suggest that cognitive models are only explanatory insofar as they map neatly onto, and serve as scaffolding for more detailed neural models. Filling in those neural details is what these accounts take the integration of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to mean, and they take this process to be seamless. Critics of this view have given up on cognitive models possibly explaining mechanistically in the course of arguing for cognitiv…Read more
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    Searching for the Source of Executive Attention
    PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 15 (1): 137-154. 2009.
    William James presaged, and Alan Allport voiced criticisms of cause theories of executive attention for involving a homunculus who directs attention. I review discussions of this problem, and argue that existing philosophical denials of the problem depend on equivocations between different senses of “Cartesian error”. Another sort of denial tries to get around the problem by offering empirical evidence that such an executive attention director exists in prefrontal cortex. I argue that the eviden…Read more