A variety of scientific disciplines have set as their task explaining mental activities, recognizing that in some way these activities depend upon our brain. But, until recently, the opportunities to conduct experiments directly on our brains were limited. As a result, research efforts were split between disciplines such as cognitive psychology, linguistics, and artificial intelligence that investigated behavior, while disciplines such as neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and genetics experimented on the brains of non-human animals. In recent decades these disciplines integrated, and with the advent of techniques for imaging activity in human brains, the term cognitive neuroscience has been applied to the integrated investigations of mind and brain. This book is a philosophical examination of how these disciplines continue in the mission of explaining our mental capacities.
Table of Contents
Contents: Naturalism and Mechanism: Outlines of a New Philosophy of Science. From Mental Phenomena to Operations: Delineating and Decomposing Memory. From Working Parts to Operations: Decomposing and Resynthesizing Visual Processing. Reduction and Independence of Higher-Level Sciences: A Rapprochement. Representations and Mental Mechanisms. From Responsive to Active Mechanisms. Confronting Mechanism's Critics: Accounting for Freedom and Dignity via Mental Mechanisms.
"Mental Mechanisms provides one of the best accounts of the notion of a mechanism, detailing its prevalence in the practice of cognitive neuroscience. . . . [T]his is an important book that succeeds admirably in spelling out the mechanistic approach, its implications, and its empirical applications. Because of this, Mental Mechanisms should spark interest in anyone working on reduction and explanation in the sciences of the mind and brain."