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Cognitive architectures as Lakatosian research programmes: two case studies

Cooper, Richard P. (2006) Cognitive architectures as Lakatosian research programmes: two case studies. Philosophical Psychology 19 (2), pp. 199-220. ISSN 0951-5089.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09515080500462388

Abstract

Cognitive architectures - task-general theories of the structure and function of the complete cognitive system - are sometimes argued to be more akin to frameworks or belief systems than scientific theories. The argument stems from the apparent non-falsifiability of existing cognitive architectures. Newell was aware of this criticism and argued that architectures should be viewed not as theories subject to Popperian falsification, but rather as Lakatosian research programs based on cumulative growth. Newell's argument is undermined because he failed to demonstrate that the development of Soar, his own candidate architecture, adhered to Lakatosian principles. This paper presents detailed case studies of the development of two cognitive architectures, Soar and ACT-R, from a Lakatosian perspective. It is demonstrated that both are broadly Lakatosian, but that in both cases there have been theoretical progressions that, according to Lakatosian criteria, are pseudo-scientific. Thus, Newell's defense of Soar as a scientific rather than pseudo-scientific theory is not supported in practice. The ACT series of architectures has fewer pseudo-scientific progressions than Soar, but it too is vulnerable to accusations of pseudo-science. From this analysis, it is argued that successive versions of theories of the human cognitive architecture must explicitly address five questions to maintain scientific credibility.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright © 2006 Taylor & Francis. This is an electronic version of an article published in Philosophical Psychology. Philosophical Psychology is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com/ The final version of this paper can be viewed online at: http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=0951-5089&volume=19&issue=2&spage=199
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): ACT-R, cognitive architecture, falsification, Soar, theory development
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Sandra Plummer
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2007
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/525

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