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Explaining the Brain: Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience

Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press (2007)

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  1. The Structure of Explanations and Counter-Explanations of Homosexuality.Fabrizzio Mc Manus - 2012 - Open Journal of Philosophy 2 (4):235-243.
    The aim of this paper is to revisit an ongoing controversy within the so called “Science Wars”; more specifically, I will address a particular topic within the “human nature” debate: the ontological and epistemological status of homosexuality. I claim that, in this particular chapter of the “Science Wars”, we are continually left in an explanatory impasse even when more data are collected, more rigorous experimental techniques are developed, more subtle arguments are offered and more pluralistic narratives are told. My diagnosis (...)
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  • Natural Kindness.Matthew Slater - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):375-411.
    Philosophers have long been interested in a series of interrelated questions about natural kinds. What are they? What role do they play in science and metaphysics? How do they contribute to our epistemic projects? What categories count as natural kinds? And so on. Owing, perhaps, to different starting points and emphases, we now have at hand a variety of conceptions of natural kinds—some apparently better suited than others to accommodate a particular sort of inquiry. Even if coherent, this situation isn’t (...)
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  • Phenomenal Precision and Some Possible Pitfalls – A Commentary on Ned Block.Sascha Benjamin Fink - 2015 - Open MIND.
    Ground Representationism is the position that for each phenomenal feature there is a representational feature that accounts for it. Against this thesis, Ned Block (The Puzzle of Phenomenal Precision, 2015) has provided an intricate argument that rests on the notion of “phenomenal precision”: the phenomenal precision of a percept may change at a different rate from its representational counterpart. If so, there is then no representational feature that accounts for a specific change of this phenomenal feature. Therefore, Ground Representationism cannot (...)
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  • Activity-Based Accounts of Mechanism and the Threat of Polygenic Effects.Johannes Persson - 2010 - Erkenntnis 72 (1):135 - 149.
    Accounts of ontic explanation have often been devised so as to provide an understanding of mechanism and of causation. Ontic accounts differ quite radically in their ontologies, and one of the latest additions to this tradition proposed by Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden and Carl Craver reintroduces the concept of activity. In this paper I ask whether this influential and activity-based account of mechanisms is viable as an ontic account. I focus on polygenic scenarios—scenarios in which the causal truths depend on (...)
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  • Corroborating Evidence-Based Medicine.Alexander Mebius - 2014 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 20 (6):915-920.
    Proponents of evidence-based medicine have argued convincingly for applying this scientific method to medicine. However, the current methodological framework of the EBM movement has recently been called into question, especially in epidemiology and the philosophy of science. The debate has focused on whether the methodology of randomized controlled trials provides the best evidence available. This paper attempts to shift the focus of the debate by arguing that clinical reasoning involves a patchwork of evidential approaches and that the emphasis on evidence (...)
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  • The New Mechanical Philosophy: By Stuart Glennan, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017, Xii + 266 Pp., ISBN 9780198779711, £30.00, US$40.95.Lena Kästner - 2019 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 32 (1):69-72.
    Volume 32, Issue 1, March 2019, Page 69-72.
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  • The Journey From Discovery to Scientific Change: Scientific Communities, Shared Models, and Specialised Vocabulary.Sarah M. Roe - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (1):47-67.
    Scientific communities as social groupings and the role that such communities play in scientific change and the production of scientific knowledge is currently under debate. I examine theory change as a complex social interaction among individual scientists and the scientific community, and argue that individuals will be motivated to adopt a more radical or innovative attitude when confronted with striking similarities between model systems and a more robust understanding of specialised vocabulary. Two case studies from the biological sciences, Barbara McClintock (...)
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  • Abstract Versus Causal Explanations?Reutlinger Alexander & Andersen Holly - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (2):129-146.
    In the recent literature on causal and non-causal scientific explanations, there is an intuitive assumption according to which an explanation is non-causal by virtue of being abstract. In this context, to be ‘abstract’ means that the explanans in question leaves out many or almost all causal microphysical details of the target system. After motivating this assumption, we argue that the abstractness assumption, in placing the abstract and the causal character of an explanation in tension, is misguided in ways that are (...)
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  • Concerning the Levels of the Empirical Sciences.Samuel Elgin - manuscript
    It is the aim of this paper to develop and defend an interpretation of level of scientific discipline within the truth-maker framework. In particular, I exploit the mereological relation of proper parthood, which is integral to truth-maker semantics, in order to provide an account of scientific level.
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  • Social Values Influence the Adequacy Conditions of Scientific Theories: Beyond Inductive Risk.Ingo Brigandt - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (3):326-356.
    The ‘death of evidence’ issue in Canada raises the spectre of politicized science, and thus the question of what role social values may have in science and how this meshes with objectivity and evidence. I first criticize philosophical accounts that have to separate different steps of research to restrict the influence of social and other non-epistemic values. A prominent account that social values may play a role even in the context of theory acceptance is the argument from inductive risk. It (...)
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  • Complexity-Based Theories of Emergence: Criticisms and Constraints.Kari L. Theurer - 2014 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (3):277-301.
    In recent years, many philosophers of science have attempted to articulate a theory of non-epistemic emergence that is compatible with mechanistic explanation and incompatible with reductionism. The 2005 account of Fred C. Boogerd et al. has been particularly influential. They argued that a systemic property was emergent if it could not be predicted from the behaviour of less complex systems. Here, I argue that Boogerd et al.'s attempt to ground emergence in complexity guarantees that we will see emergence, but at (...)
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  • Chance, Experimental Reproducibility, and Mechanistic Regularity.Tudor M. Baetu - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (3):253-271.
    Examples from the sciences showing that mechanisms do not always succeed in producing the phenomena for which they are responsible have led some authors to conclude that the regularity requirement can be eliminated from characterizations of mechanisms. In this article, I challenge this conclusion and argue that a minimal form of regularity is inextricably embedded in examples of elucidated mechanisms that have been shown to be causally responsible for phenomena. Examples of mechanistic explanations from the sciences involve mechanisms that have (...)
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  • Intentional Concepts in Cognitive Neuroscience.Samuli Pöyhönen - 2014 - Philosophical Explorations 17 (1):93-109.
    In this article, I develop an account of the use of intentional predicates in cognitive neuroscience explanations. As pointed out by Maxwell Bennett and Peter Hacker, intentional language abounds in neuroscience theories. According to Bennett and Hacker, the subpersonal use of intentional predicates results in conceptual confusion. I argue against this overly strong conclusion by evaluating the contested language use in light of its explanatory function. By employing conceptual resources from the contemporary philosophy of science, I show that although the (...)
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  • The Fallacy of the Homuncular Fallacy.Carrie Figdor - 2018 - Belgrade Philosophical Annual 31:41-56.
    A leading theoretical framework for naturalistic explanation of mind holds that we explain the mind by positing progressively "stupider" capacities ("homunculi") until the mind is "discharged" by means of capacities that are not intelligent at all. The so-called homuncular fallacy involves violating this procedure by positing the same capacities at subpersonal levels. I argue that the homuncular fallacy is not a fallacy, and that modern-day homunculi are idle posits. I propose an alternative view of what naturalism requires that reflects how (...)
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  • Intentional Models as Essential Scientific Tools.Eric Hochstein - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (2):199-217.
    In this article, I argue that the use of scientific models that attribute intentional content to complex systems bears a striking similarity to the way in which statistical descriptions are used. To demonstrate this, I compare and contrast an intentional model with a statistical model, and argue that key similarities between the two give us compelling reasons to consider both as a type of phenomenological model. I then demonstrate how intentional descriptions play an important role in scientific methodology as a (...)
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  • Evidence and the Assessment of Causal Relations in the Health Sciences.Raffaella Campaner & Maria Carla Galavotti - 2012 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (1):27 - 45.
    This contribution claims that the two fundamental notions of causation at work in the health sciences are manipulative and mechanistic, and investigates what kinds of evidence matter for the assessment of causal relations. This article is a development of our 2007 article, ?Plurality of Causality?, where we argue for a pluralistic account of causation with an eye to econometrics and a single medical example. The present contribution has a wider focus, and considers the notion of evidence within a whole range (...)
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  • A Theory of Non-Universal Laws.Alexander Reutlinger - 2011 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (2):97 - 117.
    Laws in the special sciences are usually regarded to be non-universal. A theory of laws in the special sciences faces two challenges. (I) According to Lange's dilemma, laws in the special sciences are either false or trivially true. (II) They have to meet the ?requirement of relevance?, which is a way to require the non-accidentality of special science laws. I argue that both challenges can be met if one distinguishes four dimensions of (non-) universality. The upshot is that I argue (...)
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  • Embracing the Meta-Copernican Turn: Non-Decomposition and Mechanistic Explanations.Russell Meyer - 2018 - Australasian Philosophical Review 2 (2):214-218.
    In line with proponents of 4E cognition, Gallagher [2019] is concerned that many cognitive phenomena are not amenable to decomposition strategies since their very nature is to be constituted extensively. By contrast the received view on causal explanation—the mechanistic account [Craver 2007]—emphasises the necessity for decomposition in explaining natural phenomena and insists on a sharp distinction between causal versus constitutive relations. I propose that removing the requirement that constitutive relations cannot also be causes helps to ease this tension between explanation (...)
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  • Books Received. [REVIEW][author unknown] - 2009 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 17 (1):155-171.
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  • Two Concepts of Mechanism: Componential Causal System and Abstract Form of Interaction.Jaakko Kuorikoski - 2009 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (2):143 – 160.
    Although there has been much recent discussion on mechanisms in philosophy of science and social theory, no shared understanding of the crucial concept itself has emerged. In this paper, a distinction between two core concepts of mechanism is made on the basis that the concepts correspond to two different research strategies: the concept of mechanism as a componential causal system is associated with the heuristic of functional decomposition and spatial localization and the concept of mechanism as an abstract form of (...)
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  • Neural Computation and the Computational Theory of Cognition.Gualtiero Piccinini & Sonya Bahar - 2013 - Cognitive Science 37 (3):453-488.
    We begin by distinguishing computationalism from a number of other theses that are sometimes conflated with it. We also distinguish between several important kinds of computation: computation in a generic sense, digital computation, and analog computation. Then, we defend a weak version of computationalism—neural processes are computations in the generic sense. After that, we reject on empirical grounds the common assimilation of neural computation to either analog or digital computation, concluding that neural computation is sui generis. Analog computation requires continuous (...)
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  • The Mind as Neural Software? Understanding Functionalism, Computationalism, and Computational Functionalism.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2):269-311.
    Defending or attacking either functionalism or computationalism requires clarity on what they amount to and what evidence counts for or against them. My goalhere is not to evaluatc their plausibility. My goal is to formulate them and their relationship clearly enough that we can determine which type of evidence is relevant to them. I aim to dispel some sources of confusion that surround functionalism and computationalism. recruit recent philosophical work on mechanisms and computation to shed light on them, and clarify (...)
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  • Mechanistic Explanation at the Limit.Jonathan Waskan - 2011 - Synthese 183 (3):389-408.
    Resurgent interest in both mechanistic and counterfactual theories of explanation has led to a fair amount of discussion regarding the relative merits of these two approaches. James Woodward is currently the pre-eminent counterfactual theorist, and he criticizes the mechanists on the following grounds: Unless mechanists about explanation invoke counterfactuals, they cannot make sense of claims about causal interactions between mechanism parts or of causal explanations put forward absent knowledge of productive mechanisms. He claims that these shortfalls can be offset if (...)
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  • Are More Details Better? On the Norms of Completeness for Mechanistic Explanations.Carl F. Craver & David M. Kaplan - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (1):287-319.
    Completeness is an important but misunderstood norm of explanation. It has recently been argued that mechanistic accounts of scientific explanation are committed to the thesis that models are complete only if they describe everything about a mechanism and, as a corollary, that incomplete models are always improved by adding more details. If so, mechanistic accounts are at odds with the obvious and important role of abstraction in scientific modelling. We respond to this characterization of the mechanist’s views about abstraction and (...)
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  • Addiction-as-a-Kind Hypothesis.Petri Ylikoski & Samuli Pöyhönen - 2015 - International Journal of Addiction and Drug Research 4 (1):21-25.
    The psychiatric category of addiction has recently been broadened to include new behaviors. This has prompted critical discussion about the value of a concept that covers so many different substances and activities. Many of the debates surrounding the notion of addiction stem from different views concerning what kind of a thing addiction fundamentally is. In this essay, we put forward an account that conceptualizes different addictions as sharing a cluster of relevant properties (the syndrome) that is supported by a matrix (...)
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  • Integrating Cognitive (Neuro)Science Using Mechanisms.Marcin Miłkowski - 2016 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies (2):45-67.
    In this paper, an account of theoretical integration in cognitive (neuro)science from the mechanistic perspective is defended. It is argued that mechanistic patterns of integration can be better understood in terms of constraints on representations of mechanisms, not just on the space of possible mechanisms, as previous accounts of integration had it. This way, integration can be analyzed in more detail with the help of constraintsatisfaction account of coherence between scientific representations. In particular, the account has resources to talk of (...)
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  • Validating Animal Models.Nina Atanasova - 2015 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 30 (2):163.
    This paper responds to a recent challenge for the validity of extrapolation of neurobiological knowledge from laboratory animals to humans. According to this challenge, experimental neurobiology, and thus neuroscience, is in a state of crisis because the knowledge produced in different laboratories hardly generalizes from one laboratory to another. Presumably, this is so because neurobiological laboratories use simplified animal models of human conditions that differ across laboratories. By contrast, I argue that maintaining a multiplicity of experimental protocols and simple models (...)
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  • Intervention, Integration and Translation in Obesity Research: Genetic, Developmental and Metaorganismal Approaches.Maureen O'Malley & Karola Stotz - 2011 - Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 6:2.
    Obesity is the focus of multiple lines of inquiry that have -- together and separately -- produced many deep insights into the physiology of weight gain and maintenance. We examine three such streams of research and show how they are oriented to obesity intervention through multilevel integrated approaches. The first research programme is concerned with the genetics and biochemistry of fat production, and it links metabolism, physiology, endocrinology and neurochemistry. The second account of obesity is developmental and draws together epigenetic (...)
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  • Intervention, Integration and Translation in Obesity Research: Genetic, Developmental and Metaorganismal Approaches.Stotz Karola & A. O'Malley Maureen - 2011 - Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 6 (1):2.
    Obesity is the focus of multiple lines of inquiry that have -- together and separately -- produced many deep insights into the physiology of weight gain and maintenance. We examine three such streams of research and show how they are oriented to obesity intervention through multilevel integrated approaches. The first research programme is concerned with the genetics and biochemistry of fat production, and it links metabolism, physiology, endocrinology and neurochemistry. The second account of obesity is developmental and draws together epigenetic (...)
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  • The Search of “Canonical” Explanations for the Cerebral Cortex.Alessio Plebe - 2018 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (3):40.
    This paper addresses a fundamental line of research in neuroscience: the identification of a putative neural processing core of the cerebral cortex, often claimed to be “canonical”. This “canonical” core would be shared by the entire cortex, and would explain why it is so powerful and diversified in tasks and functions, yet so uniform in architecture. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the search for canonical explanations over the past 40 years, discussing the theoretical frameworks informing this research. (...)
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  • What’s on Your Mind? A Brain Scan Won’T Tell.Yakir Levin & Itzhak Aharon - 2011 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (4):699-722.
    Reverse Inference ( RI ) is an imaging-based type of inference from brain states to mental states, which has become highly widespread in neuroscience, most especially in neuroeconomics. Recent critical studies of RI may be taken to show that, if cautiously used, RI can help achieve research goals that may be difficult to achieve by way of behavior-based procedures alone. But can RI exceed the limits of these procedures and achieve research goals that are impossible for them to achieve alone? (...)
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  • Transactive Memory Systems: A Mechanistic Analysis of Emergent Group Memory.Georg Theiner - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (1):65-89.
    Wegner, Giuliano, and Hertel (1985) defined the notion of a transactive memory system (TMS) as a group level memory system that “involves the operation of the memory systems of the individuals and the processes of communication that occur within the group (p. 191). Those processes are the collaborative procedures (“transactions”) by which groups encode, store, and retrieve information that is distributed among their members. Over the past 25+ years, the conception of a TMS has progressively garnered an increased interest among (...)
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  • Situated Cognition: A Field Guide to Some Open Conceptual and Ontological Issues.Sven Walter - 2014 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 5 (2):241-263.
    This paper provides an overview over the debate about so-called “situated approaches to cognition” that depart from the intracranialism associated with traditional cognitivism insofar as they stress the importance of body, world, and interaction for cognitive processing. It sketches the outlines of an overarching framework that reveals the differences, commonalities, and interdependencies between the various claims and positions of second-generation cognitive science, and identifies a number of apparently unresolved conceptual and ontological issues.
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  • Dead Reckoning in the Desert Ant: A Defence of Connectionist Models.Christopher Mole - 2014 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 5 (2):277-290.
    Dead reckoning is a feature of the navigation behaviour shown by several creatures, including the desert ant. Recent work by C. Randy Gallistel shows that some connectionist models of dead reckoning face important challenges. These challenges are thought to arise from essential features of the connectionist approach, and have therefore been taken to show that connectionist models are unable to explain even the most primitive of psychological phenomena. I show that Gallistel’s challenges are successfully met by one recent connectionist model, (...)
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  • Generic Versus Single-Case Causality: The Case of Autopsy. [REVIEW]Jon Williamson - 2011 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 1 (1):47-69.
    This paper addresses questions about how the levels of causality (generic and single-case causality) are related. One question is epistemological: can relationships at one level be evidence for relationships at the other level? We present three kinds of answer to this question, categorised according to whether inference is top-down, bottom-up, or the levels are independent. A second question is metaphysical: can relationships at one level be reduced to relationships at the other level? We present three kinds of answer to this (...)
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  • What is a Mechanism? Thinking About Mechanisms Across the Sciences.Phyllis Illari & Jon Williamson - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):119-135.
    After a decade of intense debate about mechanisms, there is still no consensus characterization. In this paper we argue for a characterization that applies widely to mechanisms across the sciences. We examine and defend our disagreements with the major current contenders for characterizations of mechanisms. Ultimately, we indicate that the major contenders can all sign up to our characterization.
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  • Pluralistic Physicalism and the Causal Exclusion Argument.Markus I. Eronen - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (2):219-232.
    There is a growing consensus among philosophers of science that scientific endeavors of understanding the human mind or the brain exhibit explanatory pluralism. Relatedly, several philosophers have in recent years defended an interventionist approach to causation that leads to a kind of causal pluralism. In this paper, I explore the consequences of these recent developments in philosophy of science for some of the central debates in philosophy of mind. First, I argue that if we adopt explanatory pluralism and the interventionist (...)
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  • Filling in the Mechanistic Details: Two-Variable Experiments as Tests for Constitutive Relevance. [REVIEW]Tudor M. Baetu - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):337-353.
    This paper provides an account of the experimental conditions required for establishing whether correlating or causally relevant factors are constitutive components of a mechanism connecting input (start) and output (finish) conditions. I argue that two-variable experiments, where both the initial conditions and a component postulated by the mechanism are simultaneously manipulated on an independent basis, are usually required in order to differentiate between correlating or causally relevant factors and constitutively relevant ones. Based on a typical research project molecular biology, a (...)
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  • Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception.Cory D. Wright - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.
    The ontic conception of scientific explanation has been constructed and motivated on the basis of a putative lexical ambiguity in the term explanation. I raise a puzzle for this ambiguity claim, and then give a deflationary solution under which all ontically-rendered talk of explanation is merely elliptical; what it is elliptical for is a view of scientific explanation that altogether avoids the ontic conception. This result has revisionary consequences for New Mechanists and other philosophers of science, many of whom have (...)
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  • The Relationship Between Psychological Capacities and Neurobiological Activities.Gregory Johnson - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):453-480.
    This paper addresses the relationship between psychological capacities, as they are understood within cognitive psychology, and neurobiological activities. First, Lycan’s (1987) account of this relationship is examined and certain problems with his account are explained. According to Lycan, psychological capacities occupy a higher level than neurobiological activities in a hierarchy of levels of nature, and psychological entities can be decomposed into neurobiological entities. After discussing some problems with Lycan’s account, a similar, more recent account built around levels of mechanisms is (...)
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  • Multiple Realization by Compensatory Differences.Kenneth Aizawa - 2013 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (1):69-86.
    One way that scientifically recognized properties are multiply realized is by “compensatory differences” among realizing properties. If a property G is jointly realized by two properties F1 and F2, then G can be multiply realized by having changes in the property F1 offset changes in the property F2. In some cases, there are scientific laws that articulate how distinct combinations of physical quantities can determine one and the same value of some other physical quantity. One moral to draw is that (...)
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  • Playing with Networks: How Economists Explain. [REVIEW]Caterina Marchionni - 2013 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (3):331-352.
    Network theory is applied across the sciences to study phenomena as diverse as the spread of SARS, the topology of the cell, the structure of the Internet and job search behaviour. Underlying the study of networks is graph theory. Whether the graph represents a network of neurons, cells, friends or firms, it displays features that exclusively depend on the mathematical properties of the graph itself. However, the way in which graph theory is implemented to the modelling of networks differs significantly (...)
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  • On the Relation Between Quantum Mechanical and Neo-Mechanistic Ontologies and Explanatory Strategies.Meinard Kuhlmann & Stuart Glennan - 2014 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 4 (3):337-359.
    Advocates of the New Mechanicism in philosophy of science argue that scientific explanation often consists in describing mechanisms responsible for natural phenomena. Despite its successes, one might think that this approach does not square with the ontological strictures of quantum mechanics. New Mechanists suppose that mechanisms are composed of objects with definite properties, which are interconnected via local causal interactions. Quantum mechanics calls these suppositions into question. Since mechanisms are hierarchical it appears that even macroscopic mechanisms must supervene on a (...)
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  • Mechanistic Explanation in Engineering Science.Dingmar van Eck - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (3):349-375.
    In this paper I apply the mechanistic account of explanation to engineering science. I discuss two ways in which this extension offers further development of the mechanistic view. First, functional individuation of mechanisms in engineering science proceeds by means of two distinct sub types of role function, behavior function and effect function, rather than role function simpliciter. Second, it offers refined assessment of the explanatory power of mechanistic explanations. It is argued that in the context of malfunction explanations of technical (...)
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  • What Can Polysemy Tell Us About Theories of Explanation?Maria Şerban - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7 (1):41-56.
    Philosophical accounts of scientific explanation are broadly divided into ontic and epistemic views. This paper explores the idea that the lexical ambiguity of the verb to explain and its nominalisation supports an ontic conception of explanation. I analyse one argument which challenges this strategy by criticising the claim that explanatory talk is lexically ambiguous, 375–394, 2012). I propose that the linguistic mechanism of transfer of meaning, 109–132, 1995) provides a better account of the lexical alternations that figure in the systematic (...)
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  • Epistemology of Causal Inference in Pharmacology: Towards a Framework for the Assessment of Harms.Juergen Landes, Barbara Osimani & Roland Poellinger - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (1):3-49.
    Philosophical discussions on causal inference in medicine are stuck in dyadic camps, each defending one kind of evidence or method rather than another as best support for causal hypotheses. Whereas Evidence Based Medicine advocates the use of Randomised Controlled Trials and systematic reviews of RCTs as gold standard, philosophers of science emphasise the importance of mechanisms and their distinctive informational contribution to causal inference and assessment. Some have suggested the adoption of a pluralistic approach to causal inference, and an inductive (...)
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  • Why Theories of Causality Need Production : An Information Transmission Account.Phyllis McKay Illari - 2011 - Philosophy and Technology 24 (2):95-114.
    In this paper, I examine the comparatively neglected intuition of production regarding causality. I begin by examining the weaknesses of current production accounts of causality. I then distinguish between giving a good production account of causality and a good account of production. I argue that an account of production is needed to make sense of vital practices in causal inference. Finally, I offer an information transmission account of production based on John Collier’s work that solves the primary weaknesses of current (...)
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  • Validating Function-Based Design Methods: An Explanationist Perspective.Dingmar van Eck - 2015 - Philosophy and Technology 28 (4):511-531.
    Analysis of the adequacy of engineering design methods, as well as analysis of the utility of concepts of function often invoked in these methods, is a neglected topic in both philosophy of technology and in engineering proper. In this paper, I present an approach—dubbed an explanationist perspective—for assessing the adequacy of function-based design methods. Engineering design is often intertwined with explanation, for instance, in reverse engineering and subsequent redesign, knowledge base-assisted designing, and diagnostic reasoning. I argue that the presented approach (...)
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  • A Recap on Italian Neurolaw: Epistemological and Ethical Issues.Elisabetta Sirgiovanni, Gilberto Corbellini & Cinzia Caporale - 2017 - Mind and Society 16 (1-2):17-35.
    Italy is in the forefront of forensic neuroscience practice among European nations. In recent years, the country presented two major criminal cases, the Trieste Case in 2009 and the Como Case in 2011, which were the first cases employing neurogenetic and functional neuroimaging methods in European courts. In this paper we will discuss the consequences that an understanding of the neural and genetic determinants of human (mis)behavior will have on law, especially on the Italian legal context. Some claim that such (...)
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  • Counterfactual Causation and Mental Causation.Jens Harbecke - 2014 - Philosophia 42 (2):363-385.
    Counterfactual conditionals have been appealed to in various ways to show how the mind can be causally efficacious. However, it has often been overestimated what the truth of certain counterfactuals actually indicates about causation. The paper first identifies four approaches that seem to commit precisely this mistake. The arguments discussed involve erroneous assumptions about the connection of counterfactual dependence and genuine causation, as well as a disregard of the requisite evaluation conditions of counterfactuals. In a second step, the paper uses (...)
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