Model Types and Explanatory Styles in Cognitive Theories

  • Simone PinnaEmail author
  • Marco Giunti
Conference paper
Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 49)


In this paper we argue that the debate between representational and anti-representational cognitive theories cannot be reduced to a difference between the types of model respectively employed. We show that, on the one side, models standardly used in representational theories, such as computational ones, can be analyzed in the context of dynamical systems theory and, on the other, non-representational theories such as Gibson’s ecological psychology can be formalized with the use of computational models. Given these considerations, we propose that the true conceptual difference between representational and anti-representational cognitive descriptions should be characterized in terms of style of explanation, which indicates the particular stance taken by a theory with respect to its explanatory target.


Cognitive explanations Computationalism Dynamical approach Ecological psychology 



This work is supported by Fondazione di Sardegna and Regione Autonoma della Sardegna, research project “Science and its Logics: the Representation’s Dilemma,” Cagliari, CUP F72F16003220002.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Pedagogia, Psicologia, Filosofia, ALOPHIS (Applied LOgic, Philosophy and HIstory of Science)Università degli Studi di CagliariCagliariItaly

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