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Title: Semantics and the stratification of explanation in cognitive science
Author: Kime, Philip L.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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This work is concerned with a pervasive problem in Cognitive Science which I have called the "stratificational" approach. I argue that the division into "levels of explanation" that runs as a constant theme through much work in Cognitive Science and in particular natural language semantics, is in direct conflict with neuroscientific evidence. I claim it is also in conflict with a right understanding of the philosophical notion of "evidence". The neuroscientific work is linked with the philosophical problem to provide a critique of concrete cases of research within the natural language semantics community. More recent neuroscientifically aware research is examined and it is demonstrated that it suffers similar problems due to the same deep running assumptions as those which effect traditional formalist theory. The contribution of this thesis is thought to be that of a demonstration of the essential nature and indeed the ubiquity of the basic assumptions in the field. Also, a new link is forged between the concerns of the formalists and certain seemingly more abstract philosophical work. This link enables us to see how much philosophical problems infect research into cognition and language. It is argued that practical research in Cognitive Science simply cannot be seen to be independent of the philosophical basis of the entire subject. The resulting picture of Cognitive Science and its place is outlined and explored with special emphasis on what I have called the "Principle of Semantic Indistinguishability" which says that the contribution of what can be broadly termed "environment" is epistemologically opaque to our cognition. The importance of this principle is discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available