Biorobotic experiments for the discovery of biological mechanisms

Philosophy of Science 74 (3):409-430 (2007)
Robots are being extensively used for the purpose of discovering and testing empirical hypotheses about biological sensorimotor mechanisms. We examine here methodological problems that have to be addressed in order to design and perform “good” experiments with these machine models. These problems notably concern the mapping of biological mechanism descriptions into robotic mechanism descriptions; the distinction between theoretically unconstrained “implementation details” and robotic features that carry a modeling weight; the role of preliminary calibration experiments; the monitoring of experimental environments for disturbing factors that affect both modeling features and theoretically unconstrained implementation details of robots. Various assumptions that are gradually introduced in the process of setting up and performing these robotic experiments become integral parts of the background hypotheses that are needed to bring experimental observations to bear on biological mechanism descriptions.
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References found in this work BETA
William Bechtel (2005). Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol and Biomed Sci 36 (2):421--441.
Carl F. Craver & Lindley Darden (2005). Introduction. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 36 (2):233-244.
Carl F. Craver & Lindley Darden (2001). Discovering Mechanisms in Neurobiology: The Case of Spatial Memory. In P.K. Machamer, Rick Grush & Peter McLaughlin (eds.), Theory and Method in Neuroscience. Pittsburgh: University of Pitt Press 112--137.

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