Together with Prof. Dr. Marc Slors from the Philosophy of Mind Department of the Radboud University Nijmegen, I wrote an article about the role of cognitive concepts in neuroscience. Yesterday, it was accepted in Consciousness & Cognition. I wrote a blog entry about the article for hettaligebrein.nl in Dutch.
From Commonsense to Science, and Back: The Use of Cognitive Concepts in Neuroscience
Jolien Francken, Marc Slors
Commonsense cognitive concepts (CCCs) are the concepts used in daily life to explain, predict and interpret behaviour. CCCs are also used to convey neuroscientific results, not only to wider audiences but also to the scientific inner circle. We show that translations from CCCs to brain activity, and from brain data to CCCs are made in implicit, loose and unsystematic ways. This results in hard to connect data as well as possibly unwarranted extrapolations. We argue that the cause of these problems is a covert adherence to a position known in philosophy of mind as ‘mental realism’. The most fruitful way forward to a clearer and more systematic employment of CCCs in cognitive neuroscience, we argue, is to explicitly adopt interpretivism as an alternative for mental realism. An interpretative stance will help to avoid conceptual confusion in cognitive science and implies caution when it comes to big conclusions about CCCs.