Qualifying quests, 1
Causation & Explanation
Is identifying the explanation for some event equivalent to identifying its cause(s)? How are the two similar? How might they differ? Support your response by (briefly) describing relevant accounts of explanation and causation from philosophy and psychology and empirical results from psychology.
Qualifying quests, 2
Cognitive development and learning have been described as analogous, in some respects, to the process of scientific theory change. What are the key similarities prompting this analogy? What are some important dissimilarities and criticisims of the "children as scientists" position? In the end, does the connection between development and science improve our understanding of either human psychology or how science works? Be sure to support the similarities and differences that you identify by appeal to theoretical arguments and claims from your readings as well as relevant empirical results.
Qualifying quests, 3
Rational Probabilistic Models of Higher Level Cognition
Learning causal theories, continuity and time and their role in the level at which we analyze human theories
Describe some of the recent work on rational models of theory learning about real-world phenomena (e.g., causal theories). How might this work be strengthened by incorporating temporal and continuous-dimensional concerns to these models of theories? How does adding this complexity affect our interpretation of the meaning of theories? More specifically, can time be understood at a computational level(as a part of the overall goal of theory-making), or is it relegated to the algorithmic level(where it merely affects the dynamics of theories, not their "meaning") and how does our answer to that question change our picture of theory-craft?
What diffrentiates rational analysis from other approaches to explaining the mind? Illustrate your response with two examples from your reading list in different domains. Identify what you see as the two biggest challenges for rational analysis, and consider how you might respond to them, again relying on examples from your reading list to illustrate your points.
Causation & Explanation
Approaches to explanation, levels of analysis and incomplete knowledge
There has been a tension in the philosophy of science between theories of causation and explanation that rely on law-covering and stastical information between types of events, and theories that rely on mechanistic and interventional information about individual events. To what extent have these views been reconciled in light of computational level analyses of causal inference (esp. Bayesian rational accounts) and to what extent has the conflict persisted in our understanding of human causal and explanatory reasoning? To what extent does the incompleteness of any one individual's causal knowledge undermine these accounts of causal and explanatory reasoning?
Science as a Computational, Cognitive Process
For and against: cognitive development and the philsophy of science, and their companionship on the road from rationality
Piaget and the Gestalt-psychologists inspired Kuhn; Kuhn inspired Carey and Gopnik and others. The feedback loop between the study of the ontogeny of knowledge (cognitive development: Piaget, Carey, Gopnik, Keil, Koslowski, Schulz, Spelke, etc.) and the study of the phylogeny of knowledge (philosophy, history, and science of science: Kuhn, Lakatos, Hacking, Hull, Solomon, Salmon) has always been very tight. Cognitive development and the philosophy of science at times have travelled on the same road and influences have flown readily between them, but at times they have diverged. What are some of the analogies and disanalogies between the study of cognitive development and the philosophy of science In particular if time/space allow: Of particular interest to the philosophy of science in the wake of Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, has been to chronicle the role of 'non-rational' considerations (rationality usually as construed in the perspective of logical positivism, deductivism, and falsificationism in the vein of Carnap, Hempel and Popper) in determining the path of scientific progress. What are some of these considerations, and to what extent can work by cognitive scientists bear on these aspects of science? Or to put it another way, to what extent is the child as scientist and scientist as child mutual analogy capable of enhancing our understanding of both