Theories and Theorizers: A Contextual Approach to Theories of Cognition

Joaquín Barutta, Carlos Cornejo, Agustín Ibáñez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


An undisputable characteristic of cognitive science is its enormous diversity of theories. Not surprisingly, these often belong to different paradigms that focus on different processes and levels of analysis. A related problem is that researchers of cognition frequently seem to ascribe to incompatible approaches to research, creating a Tower of Babel of cognitive knowledge. This text presents a pragmatic model of meta-theoretical analysis, a theory conceived of to examine other theories, which allows cognitive theories to be described, integrated and compared. After a brief introduction to meta-theoretical analysis in cognitive science, the dynamic and structural components of a theory are described. The analysis of conceptual mappings between components and explanation strategies is also described, as well as the processes of intra-theory generalization and inter-theory comparison. The various components of the meta-theoretical model are presented with examples of different cognitive theories, mainly focusing on two current approaches to research: The dynamical approach to cognition and the computer metaphor of mind. Finally, two potential counter arguments to the model are presented and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-246
Number of pages24
JournalIntegrative Psychological and Behavioral Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Computer metaphor, meta-theoretical analysis
  • Conceptual mapping
  • Contextualism, cognitive science
  • Dynamical approaches to cognition
  • Explanation strategies
  • Pragmatics


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