Explanation and Cognition

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2000-06-23
  • Publisher: Bradford Books
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Explanations seem to be a large and natural part of our cognitive lives. As Frank Keil and Robert Wilson write, "When a cognitive activity is so ubiquitous that it is expressed both in a preschooler's idle questions and in work that is the culmination of decades of scholarly effort, one has to ask whether we really have one and the same phenomenon or merely different cognitively based phenomena that are loosely, or even metaphorically, related." This book is unusual in its interdisciplinary approach to that ubiquitous activity. The essays address five basic questions about explanation: How do explanatory capacities develop? Are there kinds of explanation? Do explanations correspond to domains of knowledge? Why do we seek explanations, and what do they accomplish? How central are causes to explanation? The essays draw on work in the history and philosophy of science, the philosophy of mind and language, the development of concepts in children, conceptual change in adults, and reasoning in human and artificial systems. They also introduce emerging perspectives on explanation from computer science, linguistics, and anthropology. Contributors: Woo-kyoung Ahn, William F. Brewer, Patricia W. Cheng, Clark A. Chinn, Andy Clark, Robert Cummins, Clark Glymour, Alison Gopnik, Christine Johnson, Charles W. Kalish, Frank C. Keil, Robert N. McCauley, Gregory L. Murphy, Ala Samarapungavan, Herbert A. Simon, Paul Thagard, Robert A. Wilson.

Table of Contents

Preface vii
Contributors ix
Explaining Explanation
Frank C. Keil
Robert A. Wilson
I Cognizing Explanations: Three Gambits 19(96)
Discovering Explanations
Herbert A. Simon
The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of Science
Robert N. McCauley
The Shadows and Shallows of Explanation
Robert A. Wilson
Frank C. Keil
II Explaining Cognition 115(52)
``How Does It Work?'' versus ``What Are the Laws?'': Two Conceptions of Psychological Explanation
Robert Cummins
Twisted Tales: Causal Complexity and Cognitive Scientific Explanation
Andy Clark
III The Representation of Causal Patterns 167(110)
Bayes Nets as Psychological Models
Clark Glymour
The Role of Mechanism Beliefs in Causal Reasoning
Woo-kyoung Ahn
Charles W. Kalish
Causality in the Mind: Estimating Contextual and Conjunctive Power
Patricia W. Cheng
Explaining Disease: Correlations, Causes, and Mechanisms
Paul Thagard
IV Cognitive Development, Science, and Explanation 277(48)
Explanation in Scientists and Children
William F. Brewer
Clark A. Chinn
Ala Samarapungavan
Explanation as Orgasm and the Drive for Causal Knowledge: The Function, Evolution, and Phenomenology of the Theory Formation System
Alison Gopnik
V Explanatory Influences on Concept Acquisition and Use 325(68)
Explanatory Knowledge and Conceptual Combination
Christine Johnson
Frank Keil
Explanatory Concepts
Gregory L. Murphy
Index 393

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