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Dualities in Behavioural Economics and Psychology: A Critical Assessment in the Light of the Mechanistic Approach in the Philosophy of the Neurosciences

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Document pages: 29 pages

Abstract: Building on an overview of various kinds of dual systems process theories in psychology and economics, the paper proceeds with a methodological assessment in terms of the mechanistic or constitutive explanations framework that has gained prominence in philosophy of science recently, especially in the context of the neurosciences. I conclude that the existing dualist theories fail to meet the standards of proper causal explanations as established in this research. I suggest an alternative ‘dual functions’ view based on Marr’s celebrated methodology of computational neuroscience, and show that recent results in psychological and neuroscience research on dualities undermine the case for a simple categorization of processes in terms of properties such as relative speed and computational load, and point to alternative models available in the literature that highlight the role of higher-order levels of cognitive organisation in selecting specific mechanisms of choice and behaviour. In conclusion, I recommend a competing mechanisms framework along the lines of Edelman’s Neural Darwinism which concurs with recent approaches to parallelism in action preparation and selection in psychology.

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