Cognitive Science in Search of Unity

About the Project

The aim of this project was to investigate how cognitive science can be unified and integrated despite its interdisciplinary nature. Cognitive science is a field that uses methods, tools, and concepts from multiple disciplines, leading to concerns about whether it is a cohesive field or a patchwork of disconnected research. Our hypothesis was that diversity can actually enhance interdisciplinary research, and that integration can be achieved by making scientific representations coherent through mechanistic explanations. Unification, on the other hand, is more challenging, requiring broad scope, simplicity, systematicity, and homogeneity.

To test our hypothesis, we examined explanatory models and frameworks in cognitive science, including embodied cognition and predictive processing. While these are not grand unifying theories, they offer guidance towards developing such theories. We analyzed actual scientific practice and drew upon the history of cognitive science to account for the heuristic value of different explanatory strategies.

Our interdisciplinary team, which included philosophers, cognitive psychologists, and clinical psychologists, used a new mechanism in philosophy of science to investigate these issues. By developing a descriptively adequate account of integration and unification, we were able to justify normative principles for successful interdisciplinary collaboration and explanatory unification.

This work has significant implications for the development of cognitive science. Achieving its full potential requires a deeper understanding among researchers with different theoretical and methodological backgrounds. Otherwise, cognitive science may become fragmented and siloed. By promoting integration and unification, we can ensure that cognitive science remains a cohesive and thriving field.

The full description of the research project is available in the PDF format here: Integration and unification.

Publications of the project


Thlogo-poziom-en (2)e project was funded by National Science Center under the decision DEC-2014/14/E/HS1/00803 in May 2015 for 1548000.00 PLN. The duration of the project was 5 years. The Principal Investigator was Marcin Miłkowski.


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