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The Role of philosophy in cognitive science

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[opening paragraph}: The cognitive science student deserves our sympathy. It is difficult to think of another area of study where there is so much disagreement amongst the constituent parts, and even within those parts themselves -- neuroscience, AI, philosophy, psychology, linguistics, quantum and evolutionary theory. To illustrate this difficulty for the erstwhile student, imagine cognitive science as a collection of ball games with mind/brain/ consciousness as the ball. Instead of being able to concentrate on the one game as one might expect to in another subject, the student is faced with a disparate range of disciplines. Some participants maintain it is only they who are playing the real game and that other games should be assimilated to their own. Then there are theorists who like to borrow from a number of games to create their own, whilst others suggest there is no common ground at all between games. We could go on further with this part of the analogy but let us now focus on the ball. Notice how it changes shape, material, size and playing surface from one game to the next -- football, hockey, squash, golf, tennis. Yet at least here the balls are round, the surface solid. How about badminton, rugby and water polo? Hardly surprising then that a cognitive science student needs to have special skills to cope with this confusion.
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Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Computer Science, University of Exeter.

Publication date: 1995-01-01

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