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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: [2006] Philosophy of Science Assoc. 20th Biennial Mtg (Vancouver) > PSA 2006 Symposia.

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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)
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Neuroscience
    Specific Sciences > Biology
    General Issues > Causation
    Conferences and Volumes: [2006] Philosophy of Science Assoc. 20th Biennial Mtg (Vancouver) > PSA 2006 Symposia
    Depositing User: Justin Sytsma
    Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2007
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:15
    Item ID: 3287
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/3287

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