Theories and Theorizers: A Contextual Approach to Theories of Cognition

  • Joaquín Barutta
  • Carlos Cornejo
  • Agustín Ibáñez
Regular Article


An undisputable characteristic of cognitive science is its enormous diversity of theories. Not surprisingly, these often belong to different paradigms that focus on different processes and levels of analysis. A related problem is that researchers of cognition frequently seem to ascribe to incompatible approaches to research, creating a Tower of Babel of cognitive knowledge. This text presents a pragmatic model of meta-theoretical analysis, a theory conceived of to examine other theories, which allows cognitive theories to be described, integrated and compared. After a brief introduction to meta-theoretical analysis in cognitive science, the dynamic and structural components of a theory are described. The analysis of conceptual mappings between components and explanation strategies is also described, as well as the processes of intra-theory generalization and inter-theory comparison. The various components of the meta-theoretical model are presented with examples of different cognitive theories, mainly focusing on two current approaches to research: The dynamical approach to cognition and the computer metaphor of mind. Finally, two potential counter arguments to the model are presented and discussed.


Dynamical approaches to cognition Computer metaphor, meta-theoretical analysis Pragmatics Contextualism, cognitive science Conceptual mapping Explanation strategies 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Joaquín Barutta
    • 2
    • 4
  • Carlos Cornejo
    • 5
  • Agustín Ibáñez
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 6
  1. 1.National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET)Buenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Laboratory of Experimental Psychology, Institute of Cognitive Neurology, INECOBuenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.Neuroscience LaboratoryUniversidad Diego PortalesSantiago de ChileChile
  4. 4.Laboratory of Epistemology and History of Medicine (LEPHIM), Instituto Universitario del Hospital Italiano de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina
  5. 5.Escuela de Psicología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  6. 6.Laboratory of Experimental Psychology & Neuroscience Institute of Cognitive Neurology (INECO) & CONICETBuenos AiresArgentina

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