Explaining what? Review of explaining the brain: Mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience by Carl F. Craver
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 24 (1) (2009)
Carl Craver’s recent book offers an account of the explanatory and theoretical structure of neuroscience. It depicts it as centered around the idea of achieving mechanistic understanding, i.e., obtaining knowledge of how a set of underlying components interacts to produce a given function of the brain. Its core account of mechanistic explanation and relevance is causal-manipulationist in spirit, and offers substantial insight into casual explanation in brain science and the associated notion of levels of explanation. However, the focus on mechanistic explanation leaves some open questions regarding the role of computation and cognition.
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