The next (hybrid) meeting of the seminar „Philosophy of Cognitive Science” will take place on March, 30th, at 10:30 (AM Warsaw, CET). This time we will meet in person (and online), the seminar will take place in the Staszic Place (IFiS, PAN), room: 161, and at GoogleMeet (for link ask: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our guest will be Wiktor Lachowski (IPS, PAS). We will discuss the manuscript: Levels of Mechanisms and Causes in Non-Artificial Neural Networks: Linking Structure with Function
Abstract: One of the most important notions in mechanistic philosophy is the conception of levels. It is of huge relevance to scientific practice, as it is supposed to help determine if certain entities or processes can be considered a part of a mechanism of interest. This notion, however, has been challenged on both metaphysical and pragmatic grounds. From the perspective of cognitive science, it has been especially difficult to successfully apply this theoretical construct to understand how 86 billion neurons in the human brain organize to give rise to coordinated functions. The aim of this paper is to bulletproof this conception by responding to criticisms and devising a more unified ontology for mechanistic levels. This ontology will be built on recent proposals from Bechtel (2017) and Craver et al. (2021) by trying to unify them on the grounds of network topologies, a modeling tool often used in cognitive neuroscience. My proposal will emphasize the role of hubs, central nodes that have particularly many connections to other parts of the network. I will discuss why and under what conditions they can be considered junctions between levels, what constraints they impose on information processing and brain functions, as well as demonstrate empirical evidence for their key role in non-artificial neural networks.