Why Cognitive Science Needs Philosophy and Vice Versa
Article first published online: 13 APR 2009
Copyright © 2009 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Topics in Cognitive Science
Volume 1, Issue 2, pages 237–254, April 2009
How to Cite
Thagard, P. (2009), Why Cognitive Science Needs Philosophy and Vice Versa. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1: 237–254. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2009.01016.x
- Issue published online: 13 APR 2009
- Article first published online: 13 APR 2009
- Received 27 January 2009; received in revised form 11 February 2009; accepted 11 February 2009
- Cognitive science;
- Computer simulation;
- Bayesian inference;
- Decision making
Contrary to common views that philosophy is extraneous to cognitive science, this paper argues that philosophy has a crucial role to play in cognitive science with respect to generality and normativity. General questions include the nature of theories and explanations, the role of computer simulation in cognitive theorizing, and the relations among the different fields of cognitive science. Normative questions include whether human thinking should be Bayesian, whether decision making should maximize expected utility, and how norms should be established. These kinds of general and normative questions make philosophical reflection an important part of progress in cognitive science. Philosophy operates best, however, not with a priori reasoning or conceptual analysis, but rather with empirically informed reflection on a wide range of findings in cognitive science.