How do scientists criticize the computer metaphor of the brain?
Using an argumentative pattern for reconstructing resistance to metaphor
The central metaphor in cognitive science is the computer metaphor of the brain. In previous work, we reconstructed the metaphor in a novel way, guided by the assumption that it functions as an explanatory hypothesis. We developed an argumentative pattern for justifying scientific explanations in which this metaphor functions as a standpoint supported by argumentation containing abduction and analogy. In this paper, we use the argumentative pattern as a heuristic to reconstruct recent scientific criticisms against the computer metaphor. The pattern generates expectations about the nature of these criticisms, and we show those expectations to be met in most respects. We then discuss the extent to which our findings render the reconstruction offered by the argumentative pattern feasible. A central question emerging from our analysis is whether the computer metaphor can be adequately characterized as an explanatory hypothesis based on abduction. We suggest some possibilities for future lines of inquiry in this respect.
Keywords: abduction, analogy, argumentative pattern, cognitive science, computer metaphor, scientific hypothesis
Published online: 05 July 2021
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