Cognitive Neuroscience Revolution(s)

The next meeting of the seminar is planned for June, 24th, at 10:30 (AM Warsaw, CET). This time we will meet IN PERSON, seminar will take place in the Staszic Place (IFiS, PAN), room: 154.

Our guest will be Brice Bantegnie (Institute of Philosophy, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague). We will discuss a draft of the paper: Cognitive Neuroscience Revolution(s)

From Introduction: Cognitive science is on its way to being replaced by cognitive neuroscience, Troy Boone and Gualtiero Piccinini tell us (Boone and Piccinini 2016). This replacement is highly significant for cognitive scientists and philosophers alike, so significant indeed as to be legitimately called a “revolution”. In this co-authored paper and in his later book (Piccinini 2020), of which the paper, heavily revised, form a chapter, Piccinini aims at making explicit “the explanatory framework underlying cognitive neuroscience”. According to him, while explanations in cognitive science rested on a two level –functional/structural – picture with a sharp separation between functional (both representational and computational) explanations and their implementation, explanations in cognitive neuroscience rest on a multi-level picture with a hierarchy of mechanistic explanations coupling the functional and the structural; as fully developed in. Cognitive psychology has been “integrated” with neuroscience; they have “merged”.

These claims are bold, and are open to many objections, both on conceptual and empirical grounds. But before even trying to object to Piccinini’s view, it would be good to have a good understanding of his views. Now, I happen to think that Piccinini’s view are riddled by an ambiguity in his use of the expression “cognitive neuroscience revolution” which prevents us from understanding what it is supposed to be exactly. My criticism of his views takes up from this finding: this ambiguity leaves his claim that the cognitive neuroscience revolution is on its way with a lack of support. It also makes much of ontological picture he develops somewhat irrelevant to his endeavor.

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