What philosophy, if any, is needed for cognitive science?

Philip V. Kargopoulos


Abstract: The question posed in the title serves as a springboard to examine the interdisciplinary nature of cognitive science and the role philosophy should play. I will argue that philosophy has a clearly defined role to play over and above the contributions made by philosophies specific to the various disciplines engaged in cognitive science. I also point out that by engaging with cognitive science – an endeavor defined by a clear scientific goal – philosophy itself will have to change in ways that are bound to affect the future of philosophizing. In the first part of this paper, I play devil’s advocate, arguing that philosophy should not be amongst the disciplines engaged in cognitive science. In the second part, I discuss how the relationship between philosophy and psychology has been changed by their common participation in cognitive science: psychology is now admittedly philosophical and philosophy has become naturalized. In the third part, I suggest that philosophy is better equipped than psychology to handle the thorny question of representation in cognitive science. In the fourth part and conclusion, I argue that cognitive science will influence both the theory and practice of philosophy: the futures of cognitive science and philosophy are tied together.

Keywords: Philosophy; Cognitive Science; Cognitive Psychology; Naturalism; Epistemology


Quale filosofia – se una ce ne vuole – per la scienza cognitiva?

Riassunto: L’interrogativo posto nel titolo funge da punto di partenza per analizzare la natura interdisciplinare della scienza cognitiva e il ruolo che la filosofia dovrebbe avere al suo interno. Sosterrò che alla filosofia spetti un ruolo ben definito, al di là dei contributi forniti dai particolari indirizzi filosofici coinvolti nella scienza cognitiva. Sottolineerò anche che, confrontandosi con la scienza cognitiva – un ambito caratterizzato da un chiaro obiettivo scientifico – la filosofia stessa dovrà cambiare, assumendo modalità che influenzeranno il futuro del filosofare. Nella prima parte di questo articolo metterò le vesti dell’avvocato del diavolo, sostenendo come la filosofia non dovrebbe essere tra le discipline coinvolte nella scienza cognitiva. Nella seconda parte discuterò come il rapporto tra filosofia e psicologia sia mutato per effetto della comune partecipazione al progetto della scienza cognitiva: ora la psicologia è apertamente filosofica e la filosofia è filosofia naturalizzata. Nella terza parte mostrerò come la filosofia sia meglio equipaggiata della psicologia per fronteggiare l’ostico problema della rappresentazione nella scienza cognitiva. Nella quarta parte e nelle conclusioni sosterrò che la scienza cognitiva potrà influenzare la teoria e la pratica del filosofare: il futuro della scienza cognitiva e della filosofia sono reciprocamente legati. 

Parole chiave: Filosofia; Scienza cognitiva; Psicologia cognitiva; Naturalismo; Epistemologia

Parole chiave

Philosophy; Cognitive Science; Cognitive Psychology; Naturalism; Epistemology

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4453/rifp.2023.0003

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