black box theory

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An understanding of something entirely in terms of its function. This leaves on one side the question of what the mechanism is that enables it to perform that function. The thing is treated as a black box whose workings are invisible. A black box theory of science, for example, would treat a scientific theory simply as a formalism, or a mere device for delivering predictions from data; a black box theory of the mind would take it that the mind is exhaustively understood once we know which inputs yield which outputs.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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