Descriptive accounts of the nature of explanation in neuroscience and the global goals of such explanation have recently proliferated in the philosophy of neuroscience (e.g., Bechtel, Mental mechanisms: Philosophical perspectives on cognitive neuroscience. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007; Bickle, Philosophy and neuroscience: A ruthlessly reductive account. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishing, 2003; Bickle, Synthese, 151, 411–434, 2006; Craver, Explaining the brain: Mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007) and with them new understandings of the <span class='Hi'> (...) class='Hi'>experimental</span> 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 <span class='Hi'>experimental</span> 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 <span class='Hi'>experimental</span> 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. (shrink)
Anatomical, morphological and histological data have consistently shown that the cingulate cortex can be divided into four main regions. However, less is known about parcellations of the cingulate cortex when involved in active tasks. Here, we aimed at comparing how the pattern of clusterization of the cingulate cortex changes across different levels of task complexity. We parcellated the cingulate cortex using the results of a meta-analytic study and of three experimental studies. The experimental studies, which included two active (...) tasks and a resting state protocol, were used to control the results obtained with the meta-analytic parcellation. We explored the meta-analytic parcellation by applying a meta-analytic clustering (MaC) to papers retrieved from the BrainMap database. The MaC is a meta-analytic connectivity driven parcellation technique recently developed by our group which allowed us to parcellate the cingulate cortex on the basis of its pattern of co-activations during active tasks. The MaC results indicated that the cingulate cortex can be parcellated into three clusters. These clusters covered different percentages of the cingulate parenchyma and had a different density of foci, with the first cluster being more densely connected. The control experiments showed different clusterization results, suggesting that the co-activations of the cingulate cortex are highly dependent on the task that is tested. Our results highlight the importance of the cingulate cortex as a hub, which modifies its pattern of co-activations depending on the task requests and on the level of task complexity. The neurobiological meaning of these results is discussed. (shrink)
The topic is experimental philosophy as a naturalistic movement, and its bearing on the value of intuitions in philosophy. This paper explores first how the movement might bear on philosophy more generally, and how it might amount to something novel and promising. Then it turns to one accomplishment repeatedly claimed for it already: namely, the discrediting of armchair intuitions as used in philosophy.
Experimental philosophy is often presented as a new movement that avoids many of the difficulties that face traditional philosophy. This article distinguishes two views of experimental philosophy: a narrow view in which philosophers conduct empirical investigations of intuitions, and a broad view which says that experimental philosophy is just the colocation in the same body of (i) philosophical naturalism and (ii) the actual practice of cognitive science. These two positions are rarely clearly distinguished in the literature about (...)experimental philosophy, both pro and con. The article argues, first, that the broader view is the only plausible one; discussions of experimental philosophy should recognize that the narrow view is a caricature of experimental philosophy as it is currently done. It then shows both how objections to experimental philosophy are transformed and how positive recommendations can be provided by adopting a broad conception of experimental philosophy. (shrink)
One of the more visible recent developments in philosophical methodology is the experimental philosophy movement. On its surface, the experimentalist challenge looks like a dramatic threat to the apriority of philosophy; ‘experimentalist’ is nearly antonymic with ‘aprioristic’. This appearance, I suggest, is misleading; the experimentalist critique is entirely unrelated to questions about the apriority of philosophical investigation. There are many reasons to resist the skeptical conclusions of negative experimental philosophers; but even if they are granted—even if the experimentalists (...) are right to claim that we must do much more careful laboratory work in order legitimately to be confident in our philosophical judgments— the apriority of philosophy is unimpugned. The kinds of scientific investigation that experimental philosophers argue to be necessary involve merely enabling sensory experiences. Although they are not enabling in the sense of permitting concept acquisition, they are enabling in another epistemically significant way that is also consistent with the apriority of philosophy. (shrink)
I discuss experimental work by Nichols, and Nichols and Knobe, with respect to the philosophical problems of free will and moral responsibility. I mention some methodological concerns about the work, but focus principally on the philosophical implications of the work. The experimental results seem to show that in particular, concrete cases we are more willing to attribute responsibility than in cases described abstractly or in general terms. I argue that their results suggest a deep problem for traditional accounts (...) of compatibilism, and that they may cast some light on the literature surrounding Frankfurt cases. I also suggest a way in which mature philosophical convictions about free will may reflect a contingent process of refining and defending either of two competing strands of intuitions, and suggest that this may partly explain the persistence of philosophical debates about free will. (shrink)
In this paper I survey some recent developments in experimental philosophy and discuss their bearing on two leading theories in epistemology: Contextualism and Interest Relative Invariantism. In the first part of the paper, I survey some general issues of how experimental philosophy may be relevant to assessing contextualism and IRI. In the second part, I discuss and critique some of the recent experimental work.
Timothy Williamson devotes significant effort in his The Philosophy of Philosophy to arguing against skepticism about judgment. One might think that the recent “experimental philosophy” challenge to the philosophical practice of appealing to intuitions as evidence is a possible target of those arguments. However, this is not so. The structure of that challenge is radically dissimilar from that of traditional skeptical arguments, and the aims of the challenge are entirely congruent with the spirit of methodological improvement that Williamson himself (...) exemplifies in the Afterword of his book. (shrink)
Today, experimental philosophers challenge traditional appeals to intu- ition; they empirically collect folk intuitions and then use their findings to attack philosophers’ intuitions. However this movement is not uniform. Radical experi- mentalists criticize the use of intuitions in philosophy altogether and they have been mostly attacked. Contrariwise, moderate experimentalists imply that laypersons’ in- tuitions are somehow relevant to philosophical problems. Sometimes they even use folk intuitions in order to advance theoretical theses. In this paper I will try to challenge (...) the so-called moderate experimental attempts to rely on intuition in order to promote philosophical theses. (shrink)
In recent years, experimental philosophers have questioned the reliance of philosophical arguments on intuitions elicited by thought experiments. These challenges seek to undermine the use of this methodology for a particular domain of theorizing, and in some cases to raise doubts about the viability of philosophical work in the domain in question. The topic of semantic reference has been an important area for discussion of these issues, one in which critics of the reliance on intuitions have made particularly strong (...) claims about the prospects for philosophical theories of reference and arguments based on claims about reference. In this article, I review the main lines of argument in this area of experimental philosophy, with particular emphasis on the relevance of empirical data about intuitions to philosophical views. I argue that although traditional philosophical theorizing about reference faces little threat from experimental data about intuitions, there is nevertheless much to be gained from collecting and analyzing such data, which holds the promise of greatly enriching our conception of the mechanisms governing judgments about semantic reference in ways that are highly relevant to philosophers. (shrink)
We review the use of introspective and phenomenological methods in experimental settings. We distinguish diﬀerent senses of introspection, and further distinguish phenomenological method from introspectionist approaches. Two ways of using phenomenology in experimental procedures are identiﬁed: ﬁrst, the neurophenomenological method, proposed by Varela, involves the training of experimental subjects. This approach has been directly and productively incorporated into the protocol of experiments on perception. A second approach may have wider application and does not involve training (...) class='Hi'>experimental subjects in phenomenological method. It requires front-loading phenomenological insights into experimental design. A number of experiments employing this approach are reviewed. We conclude with a discussion of the implications for both the cognitive sciences and phenomenology. Ó 2006 Published by Elsevier Inc. (shrink)
What are the folk-conceptual connections between free will and consciousness? In this paper I present results which indicate that consciousness plays central roles in folk conceptions of free will. When conscious states cause behavior, people tend to judge that the agent acted freely. And when unconscious states cause behavior, people tend to judge that the agent did not act freely. Further, these studies contribute to recent experimental work on folk philosophical affiliation, which analyzes folk responses to determine whether folk (...) views are consistent with the view that free will and determinism are incompatible (incompatibilism) or with the opposite view (compatibilism). Conscious causation of behavior tends to elicit pro-free will judgments, even when the causation takes place deterministically. Thus, when controlling for consciousness, many folk seem to be compatibilists. However, participants who disagree with the deterministic or cognitive scientific descriptions given of human behavior tend to give incompatibilist responses. (shrink)
Exploring central philosophical issues concerning scientific research in modern experimental biology, this book clarifies the strategies, concepts, reasoning, approaches, tools, models and experimental systems deployed by researchers. It also integrates recent developments in historical scholarship, in particular, the New Experimentalism, making this work of interest to philosophers and historians of science as well as to biological researchers.
Joshua Glasgow argues against the existence of races. His experimental philosophy asks subjects questions involving racial categorization to discover the ordinary concept of race at work in their judgments. The results show conflicting information about the concept of race, and Glasgow concludes that the ordinary concept of race is inconsistent. I conclude, rather, that Glasgow’s results fit perfectly fine with a social-kind view of races as real social entities. He also presents thought experiments to show that social-kind views give (...) the wrong results, but intuitions might differ on which results are the wrong ones, and social-kind views can resist the implications he derives from these cases. Widespread false beliefs about a concept or category need not undermine anything’s existence, and a sufficiently context-sensitive approach to races will allow for competing criteria for race-membership in different contexts without contradictory criteria in any one context. Glasgow’s arguments are therefore unsuccessful. (shrink)
Two experiments (N1 = 141, N2 = 40) investigate two versions of Aristotle’s Thesis for the first time. Aristotle’s Thesis is a negated conditional, which consists of one propositional variable with a negation either in the antecedent (version 1) or in the consequent (version 2). This task allows to infer if people interpret indicative conditionals as material conditionals or as conditional events. In the first experiment I investigate between-participants the two versions of Aristotle’s Thesis crossed with abstract versus concrete task (...) material. The modal response for all four groups is consistent with the conditional event and inconsistent with the material conditional interpretation. This observation is replicated in the second experiment. Moreover, the second experiment rules out scope ambiguities of the negation of conditionals. Both experiments provide new evidence against the material conditional interpretation of conditionals and support the conditional event interpretation. Finally, I discuss implications for modeling indicative conditionals and the relevance of this work for experimental philosophy. (shrink)
Experimental phenomenology has demonstrated that perception is much richer than stimulus. As is seen in color perception, one and the same stimulus provides more than several modes of appearance or perceptual dimensions. Similarly, there are various perceptual dimensions in form perception. Even a simple geometrical figure inducing visual illusion gives not only perceptual impressions of size, shape, slant, depth, and orientation, but also affective or aesthetic impressions. The present study reviews our experimental phenomenological work on visual illusion and (...)experimental aesthetics, and examines how aesthetic preference is influenced by stimulus factors determining visual illusions including anomalous surface and transparency as well as geometrical illusion. Along with line figures producing geometrical illusions, illusory surface figures inducing neon color spreading and transparency effects were used as test patterns. Participants made both of psychophysical judgments and of aesthetic judgments for the same test pattern. Both of geometrical illusions and aesthetic preferences were found to change similarly as a function of stimulus variables such as the number of filling lines and the size ratio of the inner and outer figural components. Also, following specific stimulus variables such as lightness contrast ratio and spatial interval between inducing figural elements (so called ``packmen''), strong effects of color spreading and transparency were accompanied with strong preferences. It seems that the paradigm to investigate aesthetic phenomena along with perceptual dimensions is useful to bridge the gap between experimental phenomenology and experimental aesthetics. (shrink)
In recent decades, experimental mathematics has emerged as a new branch of mathematics. This new branch is defined less by its subject matter, and more by its use of computer assisted reasoning. Experimental mathematics uses a variety of computer assisted approaches to verify or prove mathematical hypotheses. For example, there is “number crunching” such as searching for very large Mersenne primes, and showing that the Goldbach conjecture holds for all even numbers less than 2 × 1018. There are (...) “verifications” of hypotheses which, while not definitive proofs, provide strong support for those hypotheses, and there are proofs involving an enormous amount of computer hours, which cannot be surveyed by any one mathematician in a lifetime. There have been several attempts to argue that one or another aspect of experimental mathematics shows that mathematics now accepts empirical or inductive methods, and hence shows mathematical apriorism to be false. Assessing this argument is complicated by the fact that there is no agreed definition of what precisely experimental mathematics is. However, I argue that on any plausible account of ’experiment’ these arguments do not succeed. (shrink)
Focusing on the work of Friedrich von Hayek and Vernon Smith, we discuss some conceptual links between Austrian economics and recent work in behavioral game theory and experimental economics. After a brief survey of the main methodological aspects of Austrian and experimental economics, we suggest that common views on subjectivism, individualism, and the role of qualitative explanations and predictions in social science may favour a fruitful interaction between these two research programs.
This paper considers ways that experimental design can affect judgments about informally presented context shifting experiments. Reasons are given to think that judgments about informal context shifting experiments are affected by an exclusive reliance on binary truth value judgments and by experimenter bias. Exclusive reliance on binary truth value judgments may produce experimental artifacts by obscuring important differences of degree between the phenomena being investigated. Experimenter bias is an effect generated when, for example, experimenters disclose (even unconsciously) their (...) own beliefs about the outcome of an experiment. Eliminating experimenter bias from context shifting experiments makes it far less obvious what the “intuitive” responses to those experiments are. After it is shown how those different kinds of bias can affect judgments about informal context shifting experiments, those experiments are revised to control for those forms of bias. The upshot of these investigations is that participants in the contextualist debate who employ informal experiments should pay just as much attention to the design of their experiments as those who employ more formal experimental techniques if they want to avoid obscuring the phenomena they aim to uncover. (shrink)
This paper argues that early modern experimental philosophy emerged as the dominant member of a pair of methods in natural philosophy, the speculative versus the experimental, and that this pairing derives from an overarching distinction between speculative and operative philosophy that can be ultimately traced back to Aristotle. The paper examines the traditional classification of natural philosophy as a speculative discipline from the Stagirite to the seventeenth century; medieval and early modern attempts to articulate a scientia experimentalis; and (...) the tensions in the classification of natural magic and mechanics that led to the introduction of an operative part of natural philosophy in the writings of Francis Bacon and John Johnston. The paper concludes with a summary of the salient discontinuities between the experimental/speculative distinction of the mid-seventeenth century and its predecessors and a statement of the developments that led to the ascendance of experimental philosophy from the 1660s. (shrink)
Earlier, we have studied computations possible by physical systems and by algorithms combined with physical systems. In particular, we have analysed the idea of using an experiment as an oracle to an abstract computational device, such as the Turing machine. The theory of composite machines of this kind can be used to understand (a) a Turing machine receiving extra computational power from a physical process, or (b) an experimenter modelled as a Turing machine performing a test of a known physical (...) theory T. Our earlier work was based upon experiments in Newtonian mechanics. Here we extend the scope of the theory of experimental oracles beyond Newtonian mechanics to electrical theory. First, we specify an experiment that measures resistance using a Wheatstone bridge and start to classify the computational power of this experimental oracle using non-uniform complexity classes. Secondly, we show that modelling an experimenter and experimental procedure algorithmically imposes a limit on our ability to measure resistance by the Wheatstone bridge. The connection between the algorithm and physical test is mediated by a protocol controlling each query, especially the physical time taken by the experimenter. In our studies we find that physical experiments have an exponential time protocol, this we formulate as a general conjecture. Our theory proposes that measurability in Physics is subject to laws which are co-lateral effects of the limits of computability and computational complexity. (shrink)
Experimental psychology in the early 20th century was targeted by several authors who described a crisis— often expressed as a lack of theoretical and experimental progress. In the 21st century, the crisis of competing theories has been largely overcome but several current emphases hinder the development of a mature experimental science. Central among these are an ethnocentrism that focuses on Western standards and populations, neuroscientism which often treats neurological evidence independently of mental and behavioral events, and the (...) tendency for demonstration experiments to replace coordinated theoretical approaches. (shrink)
Otto Neurath's thesis concerning the structure of protocol sentences is central to the famous Protocol Sentence Debate in the Vienna Circle. However, its precise nature is far from easy to discern in Neurath's writings. So far, only Thomas Uebel has attempted a closer analysis of Neurath's contribution to the debate. I argue that Uebel's interpretation is problematic in some respects and propose a novel analysis, which hopefully brings into a clearer light Neurath's position in the Protocol Sentence (...) Debate as well as his relevance to contemporary philosophies of science. (shrink)
Based on the historical case of galvanic experimentation in Germany, I identify five types of experimentation which explored and shaped the new phenomenon rather than tested theoretical predictions. Verification evaluated initial reports of Galvani's phenomenon. Simplification reduced the experimentalprotocol to the fewest and most basic steps. Optimization found experimental conditions that magnified the observed effect. Exploration tested a wide variety of metals, animals or configurations. Application modified the experiment to address unresolved related problems. Attempts to derive (...) laws of the phenomenon or establish its underlying causes were unsuccessful primarily due to the great variability of the experimental results. (shrink)
One view of philosophy that is sometimes expressed, especially by scientists, is that while philosophers are good at asking questions, they are poor at producing convincing answers. And the perceived divide between philosophical and scientific methods is often pointed to as the major culprit behind this lack of progress. Looking back at the history of philosophy, however, we find that this methodological divide is a relatively recent invention. Further, it is one that has been challenged over the past decade by (...) the modern incarnation of experimental philosophy. How might the reincorporation of empirical methods into philosophy aid the process of making philosophical progress? Building off of the work of Sytsma (2010), we argue that one way it does so is by offering a means of resolving some disputes that arise in philosophy. We illustrate how philosophical disputes may sometimes be resolved empirically by looking at the recent experimental literature on intuitions about reference. (shrink)
This article offers a critique of research practices typical of experimental philosophy. To that end, it presents a review of methodological issues that have proved crucial to the quality of research in the biobehavioral sciences. It discusses various shortcomings in the experimental philosophy literature related to (1) the credibility of self-report questionnaires, (2) the validity and reliability of measurement, (3) the adherence to appropriate procedures for sampling, random assignment, and handling of participants, and (4) the meticulousness of study (...) reporting. It argues that the future standing of experimental philosophy will hinge upon improvements in research methods. (shrink)
The article reevaluates the reception of Mendelism in France, and more generally considers the complex relationship between Mendelism and plant breeding in the first half on the 20th century. It shows on the one side that agricultural research and higher education institutions have played a key role in the development and institutionalization of genetics in France, whereas university biologists remained reluctant to accept this approach on heredity. But on the other side, plant breeders, and agricultural researchers, despite an interest in (...) Mendelism, never came to see it as the breeders' panacea, and regarded it instead as of only limited value for plant breeding. I account for this judgment in showing that the plant breeders and Mendelism designed two contrasting kinds of experimental systems and inhabited distinct experimental cultures. While Mendelian geneticists designed experimental systems that allowed the production of definite ratios of different forms that varied in relation to a few characters, plant breeders' experimental systems produced a wide range of variation, featuring combinations between hundreds of traits. Rather than breaking this multiple variation down into simple elements, breeders designed and monitored a genetic lottery. The gene was a unit in a Mendelian experimental culture, an "epistemic thing" as Rheinberger put it, that could be grasped by means of statistical regularities, but it remained of secondary importance for French plant breeders, for whom the strain or the variety -- not the gene -- was the fundamental unit of analysis and manipulation. (shrink)
This paper examines the UN 2000 Trafficking Protocol in the context of international responses to the issue of people trafficking. Attention is drawn to the conceptual flaws in this new instrument regarding the failure to address domestic trafficking, not incorporating the purchasing and selling of people as defining characteristics of trafficking, and the lack of clarity around issues of prostitution. Framing the discussion within feminist theory, the essay concludes that women’s campaigning will continue to be crucial to putting issues (...) such as human trafficking on the international political agenda. This is extended to affirm that people’s struggle against oppressive circumstances will lead the tackling of the underlying causes of trafficking. (shrink)
Language is an imperfect and coarse means of communicating information about a complex and nuanced world. We report on an experiment designed to capture this feature of communication. The messages available to the sender imperfectly describe the state of the world; however, the sender can improve communication, at a cost, by increasing the complexity or elaborateness of the message. Here the sender learns the state of the world, then sends a message to the receiver. The receiver observes the message and (...) provides a best guess about the state. The incentives of the players are aligned in the sense that both sender and receiver are paid an amount which is increasing in the accuracy of the receiver’s guess. We find that the size of the language endogenously emerges as a function of the costs of communication. Specifically, we find that higher communication costs are associated with a smaller language. Although the equilibrium predictions do not perform well, this divergence occurs in a manner which is consistent with the experimental communication literature: overcommunication. We find that the sender’s payoffs, relative to equilibrium payoffs, are decreasing in the cost of communication. We also find that the receiver’s payoffs, relative to equilibrium payoffs, are increasing in the cost of communication. Finally, we find imperfections in coordination on the basis of the experimental labels. (shrink)
The Plymouth Laboratory of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (1884) was founded in 1888. In addition to conducting morphological and other biological research, the founders of the laboratory aimed at promoting research in experimental zoology which will be used in this paper as a synonym for e. g. experimental embryology, comparative physiology or general physiology. This dream was not fully realized until 1920. The Great War and its immediate aftermath had a positive impact on the (...) development of the Plymouth Laboratory. The war greatly upset the operation of the Zoological Station in Naples and the ensuing crisis in its operations was closely related to the establishment of the physiological department in Plymouth in 1920. Two other key factors in the Plymouth story were the establishment of the Development Fund in 1909, which began contributing funds to the Plymouth Laboratory in 1912, and the patronage of the Cambridge zoologist George P. Bidder (1863-1954). This paper will focus on the combined influence of the Development Fund and Bidder on the development of the Plymouth Laboratory from around 1902 through the early 1920s, and the important role the laboratory played in promoting experimental zoology in Britain in the 1920s. (shrink)
The so-called Istanbul Protocol, a Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted by the United Nations soon after its completion in 1999 and since then has become an acknowledged standard for documenting cases of alleged torture and other forms of severe maltreatment. In 2009 the “Forum for medicine and human rights” at the Medical Faculty at the University Erlangen-Nuremburg has provided the first German edition of this (...) manual. The article traces back the development of the protocol taking into account the general background as well as the factual occasion of its initiation. The main ethical and legal principles of the manual are introduced as well as the projects for implementing the rules provided in the protocol that have been carried out so far. From this the urgent need for implementation of the Istanbul Protocol guidelines also in Europe and in German-speaking countries and here not exclusively but especially within asylum procedures becomes clear. (shrink)
According to the methodological principle called ‘robustness’, empirical evidence is more reliable when it is generated using multiple, independent (experimental) routes that converge on the same result. As it happens, robustness as a methodological strategy is quite popular amongst philosophers. However, despite its popularity, my goal here is to criticize the value of this principle on historical grounds. My historical reasons take into consideration some recent history of astroparticle physics concerning the search for WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles), one (...) of the main candidates for cosmic dark matter. On the basis of these reasons, I assert that robustness, at least in this historical case we are considering, has less value than usually assumed by philosophers. (shrink)