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Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
Thomas Sturm via 4:12 AM (5 hours ago)

to PHILOS-L Dear all,

I received many answers to my query concerning discussions of claims about computers as discoverers. Many thanks to all who kindly sent me references and materials.

Before I list the references below, let me reflect on one point. I was looking specifically for criticisms and discussions made by cognitive scientists themselves, especially up to the early 1990s. There are some such criticisms, but not many (e.g. by Gorman in the special issue of Social Studies of Science 1989, or Johnson-Laird & Legrenzi in International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 1992; see below). Instead, most came from philosophers and sociologists of science. That might be interpreted differently.

First, the cognitive science community might still widely have accepted the idea at that time. Perhaps because it was convinced of it, perhaps because it doesn't like to engage in fundamental disputes over its own research program. Second, as is well known, "cognitive science" is an ambiguous term, referring sometimes more narrowly to AI research and/or computer science insofar as it's concerned with cognition, but sometimes also to include (among other disciplines) philosophy. So, the philosophical criticisms coming from Dreyfus, Hempel, Gillies and others might be considered "internal" criticisms. Third, the discovery programs developed by Langley, Simon et al. were specifically directed against the idea that discovery isn't a rational (or logical) process. Because the latter was a philosophical thesis, the Langley-Simon-et-al. program was specifically discussed by philosophers of science (and then within science studies more generally - it aroused quite a number of worries among friends of the strong program in SSK). Fourth and finally, let's not underestimate the possibility that the following reference list may be biased due to what's available in the minds of this group - I did not ask a listgroup in cognitive science. (I will perhaps.)

I do not decide which interpretation is the best. I just did not want to deliver the digest without noting that the criticisms didn't come so much from practicing cognitive scientists, i.e. those writing and running the programs. - I include all references sent to me, including those after the early 1990s. People might be interested in the discussions no matter at which time they were brought forward.

Kind regards, Thomas

Alai, M. 2000. Informatica e logica della scoperta. In A. Andronico, G. Casadei, G. Sacerdoti (eds.), Didamatica 2000. Informatica per la didattica. Il Ponte Vecchio, Cesena, vol. 1, 13-19.

Alai, M. 2004. AI, scientific discovery and realism. Minds and Machines, 14, 21-42.

Collins, H. 1990. Artificial experts: Social knowledge and intelligent machines. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Dawson, Michael (various)

Dreyfus, H. 1972. What computers can't do. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (with a new introductory essay republished 1992 as: What Computers Still Can't Do.)

Fuller, S. 1989, rev. ed. 1993. Philosophy of science and its discontents. New York: Guilford Press. Esp.

Fuller, S. & Collier, J. 1993. Philosophy, rhetoric and the end of knowledge. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Esp. ch. 5.

Gillies, D. 1996. Artificial intelligence and scientific method. Oxford: OUP.

Heeffer, A. (forthcoming somewhere). Data-driven induction in scientific discovery. A critical assessment based on Kepler’s discoveries.

Hempel, C.G. 1987. Thoughts on the limitations on discovery by computers. In Schaffner, K. (ed.), Logic of discovery and diagnosis in medicine (pp. 115-122). Berkeley: UC Press.

Gardner, H. 1985. The mind's new science. New York: Basic Books

Korb, K. B. & C. Wallace. 1997. In search of the philosopher's stone: remarks on Humphreys and Freedman's critique of causal discovery. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 543--553

Pearl. 2009. Causality. (a positive "proof" of the program, on causal Bayesian networks)

Pylyshyn, Z. 1984. Computation and cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Radder, H. 2011. The world observed/the world conceived. Pittsburg: U of Pittsburgh Press. Esp. ch 12. Here:;cc=pittpress;view=toc;idno=31735062136373

Spirtes, R., Glymour, C. & Scheines, R. 1993. Causation, Prediction, and Search. Springer. (2nd ed. MIT 2001) (a positive "proof" of the program, on causal Bayesian networks)

Tweney, R. 1990. 5 questions for computationalists. In J. Shrager & P. Langley (eds.), Computational models of scientific discovery and theory formation (pp. 471-484). Palo Alto, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Tweney, R. 1992. Serial and parallel distributed processing in scientific discovery. In R. Giere (ed.), Cognitive models of science (Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of science, XV, pp. 77-88). Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press.

Weber, M. 2005. Philosophy of experimental biology. Cambridge: CUP. Esp. ch. 3

Weisberg, R.M. 2006. Creativity: Understanding innovation in problem solving, science, invention, and the arts. Wiley.

Special issues of:

- Social Studies of Science 1989, 4. (Lead article by P. Slezak, Scientific discovery as empirical refutation of the strong programme. Comments and replies by Brannigan, Collins, Fuller, Thagard, Woolgar, Myers, Slezak, Simon, Giere, Gorman, and Slezak.

- International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 6, Issue 1, 1992. (Lead article by H. Simon, Scientific discovery as problem solving. Comments and replies by Agassi, Cordeschi, De May, Gillies, Hesse, Johnson-Laird & Legrenzi, Losee, Marconi, Newton-Smith, Petroni, Schank & Hughes, Trautteur, Watkins, and Simon)

More positive "proof" that was offered:

Science 3 April 2009: Vol. 324 no. 5923 pp. 81-85, DOI: 10.1126/science.1165893, "Distilling Free-Form Natural Laws from Experimental Data"

Science 3 April 2009: Vol. 324 no. 5923 pp. 85-89 DOI: 10.1126/science.1165620, "The Automation of Science"

Science 9 January 2004: Vol. 303 no. 5655 pp. 186-195 DOI: 10.1126/science.1088172 "How Enzymes Work: Analysis by Modern Rate Theory and Computer Simulations"

----- Missatge original ----- De: Thomas Sturm Data: Dimarts, Febrer 25, 2014 6:50 pm Assumpte: Query: Criticisms of Scientific Discovery by Computer?

> Dear all,

> I'm looking for good critical discussions of the claim made by > Herbert Simon (et al.) that scientific discoveries can be carried > out, or simulated, by computers. I'm particularly (but not > exclusively) interested in criticisms made by cognitive scientists > or psychologists before or around the 1990s.

> Any suggestions? Please reply off-list. I'm happy to produce a > digest at the end should people want one.

> Kind regards, Thomas Sturm >

Dr. Thomas Sturm
Departament de Filosofia
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Edifici B
E-08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona)
Phone: +34 935 86 8173 - Fax: +34 935 81 2001

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