Harmony, explanatory coherence and the debate between the reticular theory and neuron theory of nerve cell structure: Echo's resolution of a quiet revolution
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 34 (4):615-632 (2003)
During the latter part of the nineteenth century our description of nerve cell structure underwent a relatively unrecognized, though fundamental, transformation-a quiet revolution of sorts. The central problem facing scientists in neurology (the study of the nervous system) was a related pair: are nerve cells continuous with each other or not, and how is information conducted? Microscope resolution and staining techniques were inadequate at the time to yield definitive proof either way. I contend that explanatory coherence provides a means to elucidate this instance of theory change in the history of science. The means of elucidation will be Thagard's computational model of explanatory coherence, ECHO ().
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