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Causes without Mechanisms: Experimental Regularities, Physical Laws, and Neuroscientific Explanation

Weber, Marcel (2006) Causes without Mechanisms: Experimental Regularities, Physical Laws, and Neuroscientific Explanation. In: UNSPECIFIED.

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Abstract

This paper examines the role of experimental generalizations and physical laws in neuroscientific explanations, using Hodgkin’s and Huxley’s electrophysiological model from 1952 as a test case. I show that the fact that the model was partly fitted to experimental data did not affect its explanatory status, nor did the false mechanistic assumptions made by Hodgkin and Huxley. The model satisfies two important criteria of explanatory status: It contains invariant generalizations and it is modular (both in James Woodward's sense). Thus, mechanisms in the narrow sense recently discussed in the philosophy of biology and neuroscience are not necessary for causal explanations. Further, I argue that the explanatory heteronomy thesis holds true for this case.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Weber, Marcel
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Neuroscience
Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Causation
Depositing User: Justin Sytsma
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2007
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:15
Item ID: 3287
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/3287

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