David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (3):axs043 (2013)
The Hodgkin–Huxley (HH) model of the action potential is a theoretical pillar of modern neurobiology. In a number of recent publications, Carl Craver (, , ) has argued that the model is explanatorily deficient because it does not reveal enough about underlying molecular mechanisms. I offer an alternative picture of the HH model, according to which it deliberately abstracts from molecular specifics. By doing so, the model explains whole-cell behaviour as the product of a mass of underlying low-level events. The issue goes beyond cellular neurobiology, for the strategy of abstraction exhibited in the HH case is found in a range of biological contexts. I discuss why it has been largely neglected by advocates of the mechanist approach to explanation. 1 Introduction2 A Primer on the HH Model2.1 The basic qualitative picture2.2 The quantitative model3 Interlude: What Did Hodgkin and Huxley Think?4 Craver’s View4.1 Mechanistic explanation4.2 Sketches4.3 Craver's view: The HH model as a mechanism sketch5 An Alternative View of the HH Model5.1 Another look at the equations5.2 The discrete-gating picture5.3 The road paved by Hodgkin and Huxley5.4 Summary and comparison to Craver6 Conclusion: The HH Model and Mechanistic Explanation6.1 Sketches and abstractions6.2 Why has aggregative abstraction been overlooked?
|Keywords||Explanation in Neuroscience Action potentials Abstraction Mechanisms|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Ingo Brigandt (2013). Systems Biology and the Integration of Mechanistic Explanation and Mathematical Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):477-492.
M. Chirimuuta (2014). Minimal Models and Canonical Neural Computations: The Distinctness of Computational Explanation in Neuroscience. Synthese 191 (2):127-153.
Worth Boone & Gualtiero Piccinini (forthcoming). The Cognitive Neuroscience Revolution. Synthese:1-26.
David Michael Kaplan (2015). Moving Parts: The Natural Alliance Between Dynamical and Mechanistic Modeling Approaches. Biology and Philosophy 30 (6):757-786.
Michela Massimi (forthcoming). The Normativity of Nature. Essays on Kant'sCritique of Judgement. Intellectual History Review:1-3.
Similar books and articles
Carl F. Craver (2008). Physical Law and Mechanistic Explanation in the Hodgkin and Huxley Model of the Action Potential. Philosophy of Science 75 (5):1022-1033.
Carl F. Craver (2009). Explaining the Brain. OUP Oxford.
Carl F. Craver (2006). When Mechanistic Models Explain. Synthese 153 (3):355-376.
Jim Bogen (2008). The Hodgkin‐Huxley Equations and the Concrete Model: Comments on Craver, Schaffner, and Weber. Philosophy of Science 75 (5):1034-1046.
Marcel Weber (2008). Causes Without Mechanisms: Experimental Regularities, Physical Laws, and Neuroscientific Explanation. Philosophy of Science 75 (5):995-1007.
Ulrich M.�Ller & Stephan Pilatus (1982). On Hodgkin and Huxley's Theory of Excitable Membranes. Metamedicine 3 (2):193-208.
Ulrich Müller & Stephan Pilatus (1982). On Hodgkin and Huxley's Theory of Excitable Membranes. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 3 (2):193-208.
Arnon Levy (2009). Explaining What? Review of Explaining the Brain: Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience by Carl F. Craver. Biology and Philosophy 24 (1).
Cory D. Wright (2007). Is Psychological Explanation Going Extinct? In Huib Looren de Jong & Maurice Schouten (eds.), The Matter of the Mind: Philosophical Essays on Psychology, Neuroscience and Reduction. Oxford: Blackwell
Eleanor Knox (2015). Abstraction and its Limits: Finding Space For Novel Explanation. Noûs 49 (3):n/a-n/a.
Phyllis McKay Illari & Jon Williamson (2011). Mechanisms Are Real and Local. In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. OUP Oxford
Gualtiero Piccinini (2006). Computational Explanation in Neuroscience. Synthese 153 (3):343-353.
Wolfgang Prinz & Bernhard Hommel (eds.) (2002). Common Mechanisms in Perception and Action: Attention and Performance Volume Xix. OUP Oxford.
Karl-Dieter Opp (2005). Explanations by Mechanisms in the Social Sciences. Problems, Advantages and Alternatives. Mind and Society 4 (2):163-178.
Added to index2012-06-09
Total downloads338 ( #2,661 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)156 ( #4,159 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?