Going against the Grain: Functionalism and Generalization in Cognitive Science

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Akagi, Mikio
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conference paper description
Functionalism is widely regarded as the central doctrine in the philosophy of cognitive science, and is invoked by philosophers of cognitive science to settle disputes over methodology and other puzzles. I describe a recent dispute over extended cognition in which many commentators appeal to functionalism. I then raise an objection to functionalism as it figures in this dispute, targeting the assumption that generality and abstraction are tightly correlated. Finally, I argue that the new mechanist framework offers more realistic resources for understanding cognitive science, and hence is a better source of appeal for resolving disagreement in philosophy of science.