Mental Mechanisms:
Philosophical Perspectives on Cognitive Neuroscience

William Bechtel
University of California, San Diego

Routledge, 2008

Table of Contents

1. Naturalism and Mechanism: Outlines of a New Philosophy of Science

1. The Naturalistic Turn in Philosophy of Science
2. The Framework of Mechanistic Explanation: Parts, Operations, and Organization
3. Representing and Reasoning About Mechanisms
4. Mental Mechanisms: Mechanisms that Process Information
5. Discovering Mental Mechanisms
6 . Summary

2. From Mental Phenomena to Operations: Delineating and Decomposing Memory

1. Phenomenal Decomposition of Memory into Types of Memory
2. Mechanistic Decomposition of Memory into Component Processes/Operations
3. What are Mental Operations?
4. Using Localization to Help Identify Operations: Heuristic Identity Theory
5. Using Brain Structures to Guide the Search for Mental Operations
6. Revising Initial Decompositions of Memory Processes
7 . Do We Need to Reconstitute the Phenomenon of Memory?

3. From Working Parts to Operations: Decomposing and Resynthesizing Visual Processing

1. Localizing Visual Processing in Striate Cortex
2. Figuring out what Visual Operations are Localized in Striate Cortex
3. Where does the Rest of Visual Processing Occur and What Operations are Involved?
4. Organization of the Visual Processing Mechanism
5. A Comprehensive Sketch of the Visual Processing Mechanism

4. Reduction and Independence of Higher-level sciences: A Rapprochement

1. The Traditional Theory Reduction Perspective
2. Philosophical Functionalism: Independence through Multiple Realizability
3. Refocusing the Reduction-Independence Debate in Mechanist Terms
4. Levels of Organization in Mechanisms
5. Mechanistic Explanations as Inherently Inter-level
6. Higher Levels in Mechanisms: Independence without Multiple Realizability

5. Representations and Mental Mechanisms

1. Representational Vehicles
2. Relating Vehicles to Content
3. Dynamicists: Eliminating or Rethinking Representations?
4. Representations as a General Feature of Control Systems
5. From Sensory-Motor Representations to Higher Cognition

6. From Responsive to Active Mechanisms

1. The Tendency to View Mechanisms as Responsive
2. The Vitalist Challenge to Mechanism in Biology
3. First Steps: The Internal Environment and Negative Feedback Mechanisms
4. Further Steps: Positive Feedback and Autonomous Systems
5. Autonomous Adaptive Agents
6. Adding Mental Mechanisms to Autonomous Adaptive Agents
7. Modeling the Mind/Brain with Active Mechanisms
8. Active Vision and Active Memory

7. Confronting Mechanism’s Critics: Accounting for Freedom and Dignity via Mental Mechanisms

1. Determinism and Agency
2. Causal Mechanisms and Predestination
3. Causal Mechanisms and Values
4. Valuing and Acting: Revisiting Autonomous Adaptive Agents
5. The Self and Mental Mechanisms
6. Constructing a Unified Self
7. Accounting for Freedom and Dignity