Exploratory concept formation and tool development in neuroscience

Philosophy of Science 90 (2):354 - 375 (2023)
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Developing tools is a crucial aspect of experimental practice, yet most discussions of scientific change traditionally emphasize theoretical over technological change. To elaborate on the role of tools in scientific change, I offer an account that shows how scientists use tools in exploratory experiments to form novel concepts. I apply this account to two cases in neuroscience and show how tool development and concept formation are often intertwined in episodes of tool-driven change. I support this view by proposing common normative principles that specify when exploratory concept formation and tool development succeed to initiate scientific change.

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Philipp Haueis
Bielefeld University