Minds and Machines

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 269–284 | Cite as

Explanation by Computer Simulation in Cognitive Science

  • Jordi Fernández
Article
  • 117 Downloads

Abstract

My purpose in this essay is to clarify the notion of explanation by computer simulation in artificial intelligence and cognitive science. My contention is that computer simulation may be understood as providing two different kinds of explanation, which makes the notion of explanation by computer simulation ambiguous. In order to show this, I shall draw a distinction between two possible ways of understanding the notion of simulation, depending on how one views the relation in which a computing system that performs a cognitive task stands to the program that the system runs while performing that task. Next, I shall suggest that the kind of explanation that results from simulation is radically different in each case. In order to illustrate the difference, I will point out some prima facie methodological difficulties that need to be addressed in order to ensure that simulation plays a legitimate explanatory role in cognitive science, and I shall emphasize how those difficulties are very different depending on the notion of explanation involved.

cognitive science computation explanation simulation 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Carroll, L. (1995), 'What the Tortoise Said to Achilles', Mind 104(416), pp. 691–693.Google Scholar
  2. Cummings, R. (1977), 'Programs in the Explanation of Behavior', Philosophy of Science 44, pp. 269–287.Google Scholar
  3. Cummings, R. (1975), 'Functional Analysis', Journal of Philosophy 72 (Nov. 20), pp. 741–765.Google Scholar
  4. Chalmers, D. (1996), 'Does a Rock Implement Every Finite-State Automaton?', Synthese 108 (Sept. 3), pp. 309–333.Google Scholar
  5. Chalmers, D. (1995), 'On Implementing a Computation', Minds and Machines 4, pp. 391–402.Google Scholar
  6. Chomsky, N. (1980a), Rules and Representations, New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Chomsky, N. (1980b), 'Rules and Representations', Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, pp. 1–61.Google Scholar
  8. Chomsky, N. (1969), 'Comments on Harman's Reply', in S. Hook, ed., Language and Philosophy, New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Chomsky, N. (1965), Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Dretske, F. (1981), Knowledge and the Flow of Information, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  11. Fodor, J.A. (1969), Psychological Explanation, New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  12. Fodor, J.A. (1981), 'The Mind-Body Problem', Scientific American 1, pp. 114–123.Google Scholar
  13. Fodor, J.A. (1975), The Language of Thought, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Fodor, J.A., Bever, T., and Garrett M. (1974), The Psychology of Language: An introduction to Psycholinguistics and Generative Grammar, New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  15. Kim, J. and Sosa, E. eds. (1999), Metaphysics: An Anthology, Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  16. Marr, D. (1982), Vision, San Francisco: W.H. Freeman.Google Scholar
  17. Pippenger, N. and Fischer, M.J. (1979), 'Relations Among Complex Measures', Journal of the ACM 26, pp. 361–81.Google Scholar
  18. Schnorr, C.P. (1976), 'The Network Complexity and Turing Machine Complexity of Finite Functions', Acta Informatica 7, pp. 95–107.Google Scholar
  19. Searle, J. (1990), 'Is the Brain a Digital Computer?', Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, 64, pp. 21–37.Google Scholar
  20. Searle, J. (1980), 'Rules and Causation', Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3, pp. 37–38.Google Scholar
  21. Stabler, E. (1983), 'How are Grammars Represented?', Behavioral and Brain Sciences 6, pp. 391–421.Google Scholar
  22. Simon, H.A. (1992), 'What is an Explanation of Behavior?', Psychological Science 3, pp. 150–161.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jordi Fernández
    • 1
  1. 1.Bowdoin CollegeUSA

Personalised recommendations