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Profile: Matteo Colombo (Tilburg University)
  1. Explanatory Pluralism: An Unrewarding Prediction Error for Free Energy Theorists.Matteo Colombo & Cory Wright - 2017 - Brain and Cognition 112:3–12.
    Courtesy of its free energy formulation, the hierarchical predictive processing theory of the brain (PTB) is often claimed to be a grand unifying theory. To test this claim, we examine a central case: activity of mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic (DA) systems. After reviewing the three most prominent hypotheses of DA activity—the anhedonia, incentive salience, and reward prediction error hypotheses—we conclude that the evidence currently vindicates explanatory pluralism. This vindication implies that the grand unifying claims of advocates of PTB are unwarranted. More generally, (...)
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  2.  43
    Moving Forward (and Beyond) the Modularity Debate: A Network Perspective.Matteo Colombo - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (3):356-377.
    Modularity is one of the most important concepts used to articulate a theory of cognitive architecture. Over the last 30 years, the debate in many areas of the cognitive sciences and in philosophy of psychology about what modules are, and to what extent our cognitive architecture is modular, has made little progress. After providing a diagnosis of this lack of progress, this article suggests a remedy. It argues that the theoretical framework of network science can be brought to bear on (...)
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  3. Why Build a Virtual Brain? Large-Scale Neural Simulations as Jump Start for Cognitive Computing.Matteo Colombo - 2016 - Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence.
    Despite the impressive amount of financial resources recently invested in carrying out large-scale brain simulations, it is controversial what the pay-offs are of pursuing this project. One idea is that from designing, building, and running a large-scale neural simulation, scientists acquire knowledge about the computational performance of the simulating system, rather than about the neurobiological system represented in the simulation. It has been claimed that this knowledge may usher in a new era of neuromorphic, cognitive computing systems. This study elucidates (...)
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  4.  76
    Models, Mechanisms, and Coherence.Matteo Colombo, Stephan Hartmann & Robert van Iersel - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (1):181-212.
    Life-science phenomena are often explained by specifying the mechanisms that bring them about. The new mechanistic philosophers have done much to substantiate this claim and to provide us with a better understanding of what mechanisms are and how they explain. Although there is disagreement among current mechanists on various issues, they share a common core position and a seeming commitment to some form of scientific realism. But is such a commitment necessary? Is it the best way to go about mechanistic (...)
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  5.  40
    Neural Representationalism, the Hard Problem of Content and Vitiated Verdicts. A Reply to Hutto & Myin.Matteo Colombo - 2014 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 13 (2):257-274.
    Colombo’s (Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 2013) plea for neural representationalism is the focus of a recent contribution to Phenomenology and Cognitive Science by Daniel D. Hutto and Erik Myin. In that paper, Hutto and Myin have tried to show that my arguments fail badly. Here, I want to respond to their critique clarifying the type of neural representationalism put forward in my (Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 2013) piece, and to take the opportunity to make a few remarks of (...)
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  6. Bayesian Cognitive Science, Unification, and Explanation.Stephan Hartmann & Matteo Colombo - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2).
    It is often claimed that the greatest value of the Bayesian framework in cognitive science consists in its unifying power. Several Bayesian cognitive scientists assume that unification is obviously linked to explanatory power. But this link is not obvious, as unification in science is a heterogeneous notion, which may have little to do with explanation. While a crucial feature of most adequate explanations in cognitive science is that they reveal aspects of the causal mechanism that produces the phenomenon to be (...)
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  7.  72
    HIT and Brain Reward Function: A Case of Mistaken Identity (Theory).Cory Wright, Matteo Colombo & Alexander Beard - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 64:28–40.
    This paper employs a case study from the history of neuroscience—brain reward function—to scrutinize the inductive argument for the so-called ‘Heuristic Identity Theory’ (HIT). The case fails to support HIT, illustrating why other case studies previously thought to provide empirical support for HIT also fold under scrutiny. After distinguishing two different ways of understanding the types of identity claims presupposed by HIT and considering other conceptual problems, we conclude that HIT is not an alternative to the traditional identity theory so (...)
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  8.  13
    Experimental Philosophy of Explanation Rising: The Case for a Plurality of Concepts of Explanation.Matteo Colombo - 2017 - Cognitive Science 41 (2):503-517.
    This paper brings together results from the philosophy and the psychology of explanation to argue that there are multiple concepts of explanation in human psychology. Specifically, it is shown that pluralism about explanation coheres with the multiplicity of models of explanation available in the philosophy of science, and it is supported by evidence from the psychology of explanatory judgment. Focusing on the case of a norm of explanatory power, the paper concludes by responding to the worry that if there is (...)
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  9.  5
    Estimating the Reproducibility of Experimental Philosophy.Florian Cova, Brent Strickland, Angela Abatista, Aurélien Allard, James Andow, Mario Attie, James Beebe, Renatas Berniūnas, Jordane Boudesseul, Matteo Colombo, Fiery Cushman, Rodrigo Diaz, Noah N’Djaye Nikolai van Dongen, Vilius Dranseika, Brian Earp, Antonio Gaitán Torres, Ivar Hannikainen, José V. Hernández-Conde, Wenjia Hu, François Jaquet, Kareem Khalifa, Hanna Kim, Markus Kneer, Joshua Knobe, Miklos Kurthy, Anthony Lantian, Shen-yi Liao, Edouard Machery, Tania Moerenhout, Christian Mott, Mark Phelan, Jonathan Phillips, Navin Rambharose, Kevin Reuter, Felipe Romero, Paulo Sousa, Jan Sprenger, Emile Thalabard, Kevin Tobia, Hugo Viciana, Daniel Wilkenfeld & Xiang Zhou - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-36.
    Responding to recent concerns about the reliability of the published literature in psychology and other disciplines, we formed the X-Phi Replicability Project to estimate the reproducibility of experimental philosophy. Drawing on a representative sample of 40 x-phi studies published between 2003 and 2015, we enlisted 20 research teams across 8 countries to conduct a high-quality replication of each study in order to compare the results to the original published findings. We found that x-phi studies – as represented in our sample (...)
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  10.  34
    Explaining Social Norm Compliance. A Plea for Neural Representations.Matteo Colombo - 2014 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 13 (2):217-238.
    How should we understand the claim that people comply with social norms because they possess the right kinds of beliefs and preferences? I answer this question by considering two approaches to what it is to believe (and prefer), namely: representationalism and dispositionalism. I argue for a variety of representationalism, viz. neural representationalism. Neural representationalism is the conjunction of two claims. First, what it is essential to have beliefs and preferences is to have certain neural representations. Second, neural representations are often (...)
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  11.  99
    Constitutive Relevance and the Personal/Subpersonal Distinction.Matteo Colombo - 2012 - Philosophical Psychology (ahead-of-print):1–24.
    Can facts about subpersonal states and events be constitutively relevant to personal-level phenomena? And can knowledge of these facts inform explanations of personal-level phenomena? Some philosophers, like Jennifer Hornsby and John McDowell, argue for two negative answers whereby questions about persons and their behavior cannot be answered by using information from subpersonal psychology. Knowledge of subpersonal states and events cannot inform personal-level explanation such that they cast light on what constitutes persons? behaviors. In this paper I argue against this position. (...)
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  12.  28
    Explanatory Judgment, Moral Offense and Value-Free Science.Matteo Colombo, Leandra Bucher & Yoel Inbar - 2016 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (4):743-763.
    A popular view in philosophy of science contends that scientific reasoning is objective to the extent that the appraisal of scientific hypotheses is not influenced by moral, political, economic, or social values, but only by the available evidence. A large body of results in the psychology of motivated-reasoning has put pressure on the empirical adequacy of this view. The present study extends this body of results by providing direct evidence that the moral offensiveness of a scientific hypothesis biases explanatory judgment (...)
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  13.  14
    Discovering Brain Mechanisms Using Network Analysis and Causal Modeling.Matteo Colombo & Naftali Weinberger - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (2):265-286.
    Mechanist philosophers have examined several strategies scientists use for discovering causal mechanisms in neuroscience. Findings about the anatomical organization of the brain play a central role in several such strategies. Little attention has been paid, however, to the use of network analysis and causal modeling techniques for mechanism discovery. In particular, mechanist philosophers have not explored whether and how these strategies incorporate information about the anatomical organization of the brain. This paper clarifies these issues in the light of the distinction (...)
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  14.  41
    Deep and Beautiful. The Reward Prediction Error Hypothesis of Dopamine.Matteo Colombo - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1):57-67.
    According to the reward-prediction error hypothesis of dopamine, the phasic activity of dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain signals a discrepancy between the predicted and currently experienced reward of a particular event. It can be claimed that this hypothesis is deep, elegant and beautiful, representing one of the largest successes of computational neuroscience. This paper examines this claim, making two contributions to existing literature. First, it draws a comprehensive historical account of the main steps that led to the formulation and subsequent (...)
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  15.  70
    Conformorality. A Study on Group Conditioning of Normative Judgment.Chiara Lisciandra, Marie Postma-Nilsenová & Matteo Colombo - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (4):751-764.
    How does other people’s opinion affect judgments of norm transgressions? In our study, we used a modification of the famous Asch paradigm to examine conformity in the moral domain. The question we addressed was how peer group opinion alters normative judgments of scenarios involving violations of moral, social, and decency norms. The results indicate that even moral norms are subject to conformity, especially in situations with a high degree of social presence. Interestingly, the degree of conformity can distinguish between different (...)
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  16.  21
    The Predictive Mind and Chess-Playing: A Reply to Shand.Matteo Colombo & Jan Sprenger - 2014 - Analysis 74 (4):603-608.
    In a recent Analysis piece, John Shand (2014) argues that the Predictive Theory of Mind provides a unique explanation for why one cannot play chess against oneself. On the basis of this purported explanatory power, Shand concludes that we have an extra reason to believe that PTM is correct. In this reply, we first rectify the claim that one cannot play chess against oneself; then we move on to argue that even if this were the case, Shand’s argument does not (...)
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  17.  24
    Two Neurocomputational Building Blocks of Social Norm Compliance.Matteo Colombo - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (1):71-88.
    Current explanatory frameworks for social norms pay little attention to why and how brains might carry out computational functions that generate norm compliance behavior. This paper expands on existing literature by laying out the beginnings of a neurocomputational framework for social norms and social cognition, which can be the basis for advancing our understanding of the nature and mechanisms of social norms. Two neurocomputational building blocks are identified that might constitute the core of the mechanism of norm compliance. They consist (...)
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  18.  69
    Explanatory Value and Probabilistic Reasoning: An Empirical Study.Matteo Colombo, Marie Postma & Jan Sprenger - 2016 - Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Society:XX.
    The relation between probabilistic and explanatory reasoning is a classical topic in philosophy of science. Most philosophical analyses are concerned with the compatibility of Inference to the Best Explanation with probabilistic, Bayesian inference, and the impact of explanatory considerations on the assignment of subjective probabilities. This paper reverses the question and asks how causal and explanatory considerations are affected by probabilistic information. We investigate how probabilistic information determines the explanatory value of a hypothesis, and in which sense folk explanatory practice (...)
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  19.  55
    Mystery and the Evidential Impact of Unexplainables.Matteo Colombo & Dominik Klein - forthcoming - Episteme.
    How should the information that a proposition p is a mystery impact your credence in p? To answer this question, we first provide a taxonomy of mysteries; then, we develop a test to distinguish two types of mysteries. When faced with mysteries of the first type, rational epistemic agents should lower their credence in p upon learning that p is a mystery. The same information should not impact agents’ credence in p, when they face mysteries of the second type. Our (...)
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  20.  27
    Andy Clark, Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind.Matteo Colombo - 2017 - Minds and Machines 27 (2):381-385.
  21.  17
    Bayesian Cognitive Science, Predictive Brains, and the Nativism Debate.Matteo Colombo - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    The rise of Bayesianism in cognitive science promises to shape the debate between nativists and empiricists into more productive forms—or so have claimed several philosophers and cognitive scientists. The present paper explicates this claim, distinguishing different ways of understanding it. After clarifying what is at stake in the controversy between nativists and empiricists, and what is involved in current Bayesian cognitive science, the paper argues that Bayesianism offers not a vindication of either nativism or empiricism, but one way to talk (...)
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  22.  88
    How Authentic Intentionality Can Be Enabled: A Neurocomputational Hypothesis. [REVIEW]Matteo Colombo - 2010 - Minds and Machines 20 (2):183-202.
    According to John Haugeland, the capacity for “authentic intentionality” depends on a commitment to constitutive standards of objectivity. One of the consequences of Haugeland’s view is that a neurocomputational explanation cannot be adequate to understand “authentic intentionality”. This paper gives grounds to resist such a consequence. It provides the beginning of an account of authentic intentionality in terms of neurocomputational enabling conditions. It argues that the standards, which constitute the domain of objects that can be represented, reflect the statistical structure (...)
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  23.  52
    Sleeping Beauty Goes to the Lab: The Psychology of Self-Locating Evidence.Matteo Colombo, Jun Lai & Vincenzo Crupi - unknown - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-13.
    Analyses of the Sleeping Beauty Problem are polarised between those advocating the “1/2 view” and those endorsing the “1/3 view”. The disagreement concerns the evidential relevance of self-locating information. Unlike halfers, thirders regard self-locating information as evidentially relevant in the Sleeping Beauty Problem. In the present study, we systematically manipulate the kind of information available in different formulations of the Sleeping Beauty Problem. Our findings indicate that patterns of judgment on different formulations of the Sleeping Beauty Problem do not fit (...)
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  24. 10. Referees for Philosophy of Science Referees for Philosophy of Science (Pp. 479-482).Justin Garson, Yasha Rohwer, Collin Rice, Matteo Colombo, Peter Brössel, Davide Rizza, Simon M. Huttegger, Richard Healey, Alyssa Ney & Kathryn Phillips - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (3).
  25.  48
    Why Build a Virtual Brain? Large-Scale Neural Simulations as Test-Bed for Artificial Computing Systems.Matteo Colombo - 2015 - In D. C. Noelle, R. Dale, A. S. Warlaumont, J. Yoshimi, T. Matlock, C. D. Jennings & P. P. Maglio (eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Cognitive Science Society. pp. 429-434.
    Despite the impressive amount of financial resources invested in carrying out large-scale brain simulations, it is controversial what the payoffs are of pursuing this project. The present paper argues that in some cases, from designing, building, and running a large-scale neural simulation, scientists acquire useful knowledge about the computational performance of the simulating system, rather than about the neurobiological system represented in the simulation. What this means, why it is not a trivial lesson, and how it advances the literature on (...)
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  26.  27
    Explanatory Judgment, Probability, and Abductive Inference.Matteo Colombo, Marie Postma & Jan Sprenger - 2016 - In A. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman & J. C. Trueswell (eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 432-437) Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. pp. 432-437.
    Abductive reasoning assigns special status to the explanatory power of a hypothesis. But how do people make explanatory judgments? Our study clarifies this issue by asking: How does the explanatory power of a hypothesis cohere with other cognitive factors? How does probabilistic information affect explanatory judgments? In order to answer these questions, we conducted an experiment with 671 participants. Their task was to make judgments about a potentially explanatory hypothesis and its cognitive virtues. In the responses, we isolated three constructs: (...)
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  27. What Can Neuroscience Offer to Economics?Matteo Colombo - 2009 - Humana Mente 10.
    The specific regions in the brain that are active when some behaviour is observed is a kind of information that may be interesting for neuroscientists, but how could it be fruitful for economic theory? The thesis defended in the essay is that the brain matters to prediction. By using the Ultimatum Game as a benchmark, it is argued that if the goal of a model of human behaviour is to yield good predictions about important classes of choices, then models that (...)
     
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  28.  46
    Paul M. Churchland: Plato's Camera: How the Physical Brain Captures a Landscape of Abstract Universals. [REVIEW]Matteo Colombo - 2013 - Minds and Machines 23 (2):263-268.
  29.  14
    Gualtiero Piccinini: Physical Computation: A Mechanistic Account.Matteo Colombo - 2016 - Minds and Machines 26 (3):307-312.
  30.  21
    The Architecture of Cognition: Rethinking Fodor and Pylyshyn’s Systematicity Challenge.Matteo Colombo - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (3):476-478.
  31.  44
    Leges Sine Moribus Vanae: Does Language Make Moral Thinking Possible?Matteo Colombo - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (3):501-521.
    Does language make moral cognition possible? Some authors like Andy Clark have argued for a positive answer whereby language and the ways people use it mark a fundamental divide between humans and all other animals with respect to moral thinking (Clark, Mind and morals: essays on cognitive science and ethics. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1996; Moral Epistemol Nat Can J Philos Suppl XXVI, 2000a; Moral Epistemol Nat Can J Philos Suppl XXVI, 2000b; Philosophy of mental representation. Oxford University Press, Oxford, (...)
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  32.  28
    Pete Mandik: This is Philosophy of Mind: An Introduction.Matteo Colombo - 2014 - Minds and Machines 24 (3):373-376.
    Pete Mandik’s This is Philosophy of Mind is the latest addition to the “introduction to the philosophy of mind textbook” literature. It is a welcome addition, as Mandik offers readers an encompassing, up-to-date and engagingly written textbook. The objective of This is Philosophy of Mind is to communicate to a wider audience the fascinating and challenging ideas discussed in contemporary philosophy of mind. It is intended as a resource useful for both students taking a course and for anybody else who (...)
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  33.  23
    Bryce Huebner: Macrocognition: A Theory of Distributed Minds and Collective Intentionality.Matteo Colombo - 2015 - Minds and Machines 25 (1):103-109.
    Bryce Huebner’s Macrocognition is a book with a double mission. The first and main mission is “to show that there are cases of collective mentality in our world” . Cases of collective mentality are cases where groups, teams, mobs, firms, colonies or some other collectivities possess cognitive capacities or mental states in the same sense that we individually do. To accomplish this mission, Huebner develops an account of macrocognition, where “the term ‘macrocognition’ is intended as shorthand for the claim that (...)
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  34.  18
    For a Few Neurons More: Tractability and Neurally Informed Economic Modelling.Matteo Colombo - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (4):713-736.
    There continues to be significant confusion about the goals, scope, and nature of modelling practice in neuroeconomics. This article aims to dispel some such confusion by using one of the most recent critiques of neuroeconomic modelling as a foil. The article argues for two claims. First, currently, for at least some economic model of choice behaviour, the benefits derivable from neurally informing an economic model do not involve special tractability costs. Second, modelling in neuroeconomics is best understood within Marr’s three-level (...)
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  35.  29
    Olaf Sporns: Networks of the Brain. [REVIEW]Matteo Colombo - 2013 - Minds and Machines 23 (2):259-262.
  36.  15
    Olaf Sporns: Discovering the Human Connectome. [REVIEW]Matteo Colombo - 2014 - Minds and Machines 24 (2):217-220.
    The “father of skyscrapers” and “father of modernist architecture” Louis Henry Sullivan (1856–1924) wrote that “[a]ll things in nature have a shape, … a form, an outward semblance, that tells us what they are, that distinguishes them from ourselves and from each other,” adding “Form follows from function.” But structure shapes function too.The biological world offers a myriad of examples where this is apparent. One such example, perhaps not the most intuitive, is the brain: a network with a complex architecture (...)
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  37.  4
    Deep and Beautiful. The Reward Prediction Error Hypothesis of Dopamine.Matteo Colombo - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 45 (1):57-67.
    According to the reward-prediction error hypothesis of dopamine, the phasic activity of dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain signals a discrepancy between the predicted and currently experienced reward of a particular event. It can be claimed that this hypothesis is deep, elegant and beautiful, representing one of the largest successes of computational neuroscience. This paper examines this claim, making two contributions to existing literature. First, it draws a comprehensive historical account of the main steps that led to the formulation and subsequent (...)
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  38.  1
    Deep and Beautiful. The Reward Prediction Error Hypothesis of Dopamine.Matteo Colombo - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45:57-67.
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  39. Olaf Sporns: Networks of the Brain: MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2011, Xi+ 243, $40.00, ISBN 978-0-262-01469-4 (Book Review). [REVIEW]Matteo Colombo - 2013 - Minds and Machines 23 (2):259-262.
     
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  40. Paul M. Churchland: Plato's Camera: How the Physical Brain Captures a Landscape of Abstract Universals: MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2012, X+ 289, $35.00, ISBN 9780262016865 (Book Review). [REVIEW]Matteo Colombo - 2013 - Minds and Machines 23 (2):263-268.
     
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  41. Recipes for Science: An Introduction to Scientific Methods and Reasoning.Angela Potochnik, Matteo Colombo & Cory Wright - forthcoming - New York: Routledge.
    There is widespread recognition at universities that a proper understanding of science is needed for all undergraduates. Good jobs are increasingly found in fields related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine, and science now enters almost all aspects of our daily lives. For these reasons, scientific literacy and an understanding of scientific methodology are a foundational part of any undergraduate education. Recipes for Science provides an accessible introduction to the main concepts and methods of scientific reasoning. With the help of (...)
     
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