, Volume 114, Issue 3, pp 463-495

Grades of Explanation in Cognitive Science

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Abstract

I sketch an explanatory framework that fits a variety of contemporary research programs in cognitive science. I then investigate the scope and the implications of this framework. The framework emphasizes (a) the explanatory role played by the semantic content of cognitive representations, and (b) the important “mechanistic”, non-intentional dimension of cognitive explanations. I show how both of these features are present simultaneously in certain varieties of cognitive explanation. I also consider the explanatory role played by grounded representational content, that is, content evaluated by appeal to its truth, falsity, accuracy, inaccuracy and other relational properties.