Raoul Gervais

Paper: Reduction and emergence as features of cognition: unification and the extended mind hypothesis

Reduction and emergence are now applied, not only to reality as it is, but also to epistemic categories of our own making; the true question however, is whether these concepts can be meaningfully applied to human cognition itself.

Raoul Gervais is a PhD-student in the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science, Ghent University, Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences. He received his Masters’ degree at the University of Leiden in 2005 and at the VU (Free University) in Amsterdam. His main interests are philosophy of science, with emphasis on psychology and biology and philosophy of mind. His PhD project is called A Pragmatic Theory of Scientific Explanation (Supervisor: Prof. dr. Erik Weber). The aim of the project is to develop a theory of scientific explanation with the following characteristics: (1) it starts from the idea that explanations can be construed as answers to why-questions and that these why-questions originate in different epistemic interests, (2) it answers questions about the structure of explanations by taking into account these epistemic interests and (3) it answers questions about criteria of explanatory power also by taking into account these interests. The approach taken differs from traditional approaches (from Hempel over Salmon to Kitcher) in two respects: it starts from a detailed analysis of scientific practice in the disciplines that are studied, and it studies a broad range of disciplines, from physics up to the social sciences. Gervais’ own contribution to the project will be to apply this approach to explanation in the domains of psychology and biology. Gervais has authored and co-authored a number of papers, including in journals such as Philosophical Psychology and Minds and Machines.