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Multiple Realization and Methodological Pluralism

Robert C. Richardson
Synthese
Vol. 167, No. 3 (Apr., 2009), pp. 473-492
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40271217
Page Count: 20
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Multiple Realization and Methodological Pluralism
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Abstract

Multiple realization was once taken to be a challenge to reductionist visions, especially within cognitive science, and a foundation of the "antireductionist consensus." More recently, multiple realization has come to be challenged on naturalistic grounds, as well as on more "metaphysical" grounds. Within cognitive science, one focal issue concerns the role of neural plasticity for addressing these issues. If reorganization maintains the same cognitive functions, that supports claims for multiple realization. I take up the reorganization involved in language dysfunctions to deal with questions concerned with multiple realization and neural plasticity. Beginning with Broca's case for localization and the nineteenth century discussion of "reorganization," and returning to more recent evidence for neural plasticity, I argue that, in the end, there is substantial support for multiple realization in cognitive systems; I further argue that this is wholly consistent with a recognition of methodological pluralism in cognitive science.

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