Carl Craver and I have written a paper arguing that functional analyses are just elliptical mechanistic explanations, contrary to the received view that functional analysis is distinct and autonomous from mechanistic explanation. Corollary: contrary to the received view, psychological explanation is not distinct and autonomous from neuroscientific explanation–rather, psychological explanation describes aspects of the same mechanisms described by neuroscientific explanation.
We are hoping to send the paper out for formal refereeing in a week or so. Any comments would be very much appreciated.
Abstract. We sketch a framework for building a unified science of cognition. This unification is achieved by showing how functional analyses of cognitive capacities can be integrated with the multilevel mechanistic explanations of neural systems. The core idea is that functional analyses are sketches of mechanisms, in which some structural aspects of a mechanistic explanation are omitted. Once the missing aspects are filled in, a functional analysis turns into a full-blown mechanistic explanation. By this process, functional analyses are seamlessly integrated with multilevel mechanistic explanations.