The multiplicity of experimental protocols: A challenge to reductionist and non-reductionist models of the unity of neuroscience
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Synthese 167 (3):511-539 (2009)
Descriptive accounts of the nature of explanation in neuroscience and the global goals of such explanation have recently proliferated in the philosophy of neuroscience and with them new understandings of the experimental practices of neuroscientists have emerged. In this paper, I consider two models of such practices; one that takes them to be reductive; another that takes them to be integrative. I investigate those areas of the neuroscience of learning and memory from which the examples used to substantiate these models are culled, and argue that the multiplicity of experimental protocols used in these research areas presents specific challenges for both models. In my view, these challenges have been overlooked largely because philosophers have hitherto failed to pay sufficient attention to fundamental features of experimental practice. I demonstrate that when we do pay attention to such features, evidence for reduction and integrative unity in neuroscience is simply not borne out. I end by suggesting some new directions for the philosophy of neuroscience that pertain to taking a closer look at the nature of neuroscientific experiments.
|Keywords||Explanation Experimentation Mechanism Reliability Validity Multiplicity Experimental Paradigm Experimental Protocol|
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Citations of this work BETA
Ingo Brigandt & Alan Love, Reductionism in Biology. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Charles Rathkopf (2013). Localization and Intrinsic Function. Philosophy of Science 80 (1):1-21.
Jacqueline Anne Sullivan (forthcoming). Construct Stabilization and the Unity of the Mind-Brain Sciences. Philosophy of Science (00).
Elizabeth Irvine (2012). Consciousness as a Scientific Concept: A Philosophy of Science Perspective. Springer.
Jacqueline Anne Sullivan (2010). A Role for Representation in Cognitive Neurobiology. Philosophy of Science (Supplement) 77 (5):875-887.
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