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Journal Article

More why, less how: What we need from models of cognition


Cutler,  Anne
Emeriti, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
MARCS Institute and Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, Western Sydney University;

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Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2021). More why, less how: What we need from models of cognition. Cognition, 213: 104688. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104688.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-3837-C
Science regularly experiences periods in which simply describing the world is prioritised over attempting to explain it. Cognition, this journal, came into being some 45 years ago as an attempt to lay one such period to rest; without doubt, it has helped create the current cognitive science climate in which theory is decidedly welcome. Here we summarise the reasons why a theoretical approach is imperative in our field, and call attention to some potentially counter-productive trends in which cognitive models are concerned too exclusively with how processes work at the expense of why the processes exist in the first place and thus what the goal of modelling them must be.