The multiplicity of experimental protocols: A challenge to reductionist and non-reductionist models of the unity of neuroscience

Synthese 167 (3):511-539 (2008)

Authors
Jacqueline Anne Sullivan
University of Western Ontario
Abstract
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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Reprint years 2009
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-008-9389-4
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References found in this work BETA

Epistemology and Cognition.Alvin I. Goldman - 1986 - Harvard University Press.

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Reductionism in Biology.Ingo Brigandt & Alan Love - 2008 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Neural Representations Observed.Eric Thomson & Gualtiero Piccinini - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):191-235.

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