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Pinning down the theoretical commitments of Bayesian cognitive models

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 August 2011

Matt Jones
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309. mcj@colorado.edu
Bradley C. Love
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712. brad_love@mail.utexas.edu
Corresponding

Abstract

Mathematical developments in probabilistic inference have led to optimism over the prospects for Bayesian models of cognition. Our target article calls for better differentiation of these technical developments from theoretical contributions. It distinguishes between Bayesian Fundamentalism, which is theoretically limited because of its neglect of psychological mechanism, and Bayesian Enlightenment, which integrates rational and mechanistic considerations and is thus better positioned to advance psychological theory. The commentaries almost uniformly agree that mechanistic grounding is critical to the success of the Bayesian program. Some commentaries raise additional challenges, which we address here. Other commentaries claim that all Bayesian models are mechanistically grounded, while at the same time holding that they should be evaluated only on a computational level. We argue this contradictory stance makes it difficult to evaluate a model's scientific contribution, and that the psychological commitments of Bayesian models need to be made more explicit.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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