Introduction to Volume 3, Issue 2 of topiCS


We have three topics in this issue of topiCS. With the first topic, we continue our tradition of experimenting with and expanding the format of the scientific journal. In Vol. 2, Issue 4, Editor Richard Cooper recruited five leading researchers to span the state-of-the-art in Cognitive Control. For this issue, he has recruited 12 leading researchers to comment on those papers. The discussions are lively and insightful. We look forward to receiving your feedback as to how you think this approach to recruiting target papers and then recruiting commentaries has worked out.

In Vol. 3, Issue 1, Topic Editor Danielle McNamara presented us with four of her papers on Computation Methods to Extract Meaning from Text and Advance Theories of Human Cognition. As our early reports suggest that this topic has been well received, I am pleased to present you with four papers that complete the set.

A persisting topic is Philosophy in and Philosophy of Cognitive Science. The first papers on this topic were published in Vol. 1, Issue 2 by Topic Editor Andrew Brook. The second set of papers appeared in Vol. 1, Issue 3. After a pause, the topic is back with one original paper and a commentary. The paper, by Stepp, Chemero, and Turvey, claims that Bechtel's paper on a "proposed philosophy of cognitive science" published in Vol., Issue 3, "applies only to representationalist and mechanist cognitive science, ignoring the substantial minority of dynamically oriented cognitive scientists." This issue closes with a response by Kaplan and Bechtel in which they "defend a major role for dynamical models in cognitive science" but vigorously "reject the claim" that such models "should be construed as alternatives to mechanistic explanations." The dispute over the place of dynamical models in cognitive science touches on some of the issues raised by the Great Debate on Complex System Approaches to Cognitive Science, which will appear in a future issue. For the Great Debate, Damian Stephen and Guy Van Orden have gathered four papers which argue that the "strong emergence" of the Complex Systems approach presents a productive alternative to Cognitive Science as it is done today. The topic will include a review of these claims by a bevy of modelers and one philosopher, some of whom consider themselves proemergence, but all of whom incorporate or are sympathetic to the unification of dynamical models and emergence with mechanistic accounts.

As always, topiCS encourages commentaries and new topics. Send your commentaries directly to me at along with a short note. If you are proposing a topic, please open communications with a short first note (about 300–650 words or fewer) and be sure to consult the topiCS FAQ page,, for Preparing a Proposal for topiCS.