Explicating pluralism: Where the mind to molecule pathway gets off the track—reply to Bickle

Synthese 151 (3):435-443 (2006)
Abstract
It is argued that John Bickle’s Ruthless Reductionism is flawed as an account of the practice of neuroscience. Examples from genetics and linguistics suggest, first, that not every mind-brain link or gene-phenotype link qualifies as a reduction or as a complete explanation, and, second, that the higher (psychological) level of analysis is not likely to disappear as neuroscience progresses. The most plausible picture of the evolving sciences of the mind-brain seems a patchwork of multiple connections and partial explanations, linking anatomy, mechanisms and functions across different domains, levels, and grain sizes. Bickle’s claim that only the molecular level provides genuine explanations, and higher level concepts are just heuristics that will soon be redundant, is thus rejected. In addition, it is argued that Bickle’s recasting of philosophy of science as metascience explicating empirical practices, ignores an essential role for philosophy in reflecting upon criteria for reduction and explanation. Many interesting and complex issues remain to be investigated for the philosophy of science, and in particular the nature of interlevel links found in empirical research requires sophisticated philosophical analysis.
Keywords Explanation  Level  Neuroscience  Pluralism  Reductionism  Science  Bickle, John
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