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6. Cognitive Approaches to Science


Subject Philosophy

Key-Topics science

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230205.2001.00009.x


Until very recently it could have been said that most approaches to the philosophy of science were “cognitive.” This includes logical positivism (see logical positivism ), as well as later, historically based philosophies of science, such as that of Imre Lakatos (see lakatos ). Here the contrast is between the cognitive and the psychological or social dimensions of science. Central to all such “cognitive” approaches is a robust notion of rationality, or rational progress, in the evaluation of scientific theories or research programmes (see theories ). Carnap sought an inductive logic that would make the evaluation of hypotheses rational in the way that deductive inference is rational. Lakatos defined rational progress in terms of increasing empirical content. For both it was essential that the philosophy of science exhibit science as a rational , rather than a merely psychological or social, enterprise. Today the idea of a cognitive approach to the study of science means something quite different - indeed, something antithetical to the earlier meaning ( Giere 1988 ). A “cognitive approach” is now taken to be one that focuses on the cognitive structures and processes exhibited in the activities of individual scientists. The general nature of these structures and processes is the subject matter of the newly emerging cognitive sciences. A cognitive approach to the study of science ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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