A philosophical analysis of computational modeling in cognitive science

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Graduate School of Informatics, Cognitive Science, Turkey

Approval Date: 2007




This study analyses the methodology of computational cognitive modeling as one of the ways of conducting research in cognitive science. The aim of the study is to provide an understanding of the place of computational cognitive models in understanding human cognition. Considering the vast number of computational cognitive models which have been just given to account for some cognitive phenomenon by solely simulating some experimental study and fitting to empirical data, a practice-oriented approach is adopted in this study to understand the work of the modeler, and accordingly to discover the potential of computational cognitive models, apart from their being simulation tools. In pursuit of this aim, a framework with a practice-oriented approach from the philosophy of science literature, which is Morgan & Morrison (1999)’s account, is employed on a case study. The framework emphasizes four key elements to understand the place of models in science, which are the construction of models, the function of models, the representation they provide, and the ways we learn from models. The case study Q-Soar (Simon, Newell & Klahr, 1991), is a model built with Soar cognitive architecture (Laird, Newell & Rosenbloom, 1987) which is representative of a class of computational cognitive models. Discussions are included for how to make generalizations for computational cognitive models out of this class, i.e. for models that are built with other modeling paradigms.