PhilSci Archive

Mapping Explanatory Language in Neuroscience

Kostic, Daniel and Halffman, Willem (2023) Mapping Explanatory Language in Neuroscience. [Preprint]

Preprint Mapping Explanatory Language in Neuroscience.pdf

Download (2MB) | Preview


The philosophical literature on scientific explanation in neuroscience has been dominated by the idea of mechanisms. The mechanist philosophers often claim that neuroscience is in the business of finding mechanisms. This view has been challenged in numerous ways by showing that there are other successful and widespread explanatory strategies in neuroscience. However, the empirical evidence for all these claims was hitherto lacking. Empirical evidence about the pervasiveness and uses of various explanatory strategies in neuroscience is particularly needed because examples and case studies that are used to illustrate philosophical claims so far tend to be hand-picked. The risk of confirmation bias is therefore considerable: when looking for white swans, all one finds is that swans are white. The more systematic quantitative and qualitative bibliometric study of a large body of relevant literature that we present in this paper can put such claims into perspective. Using bibliometric tools, we identify the typical linguistic patterns used in the alleged mechanistic, dynamical, and topological explanations in the literature, their preponderance and how they change over time. Our findings show abundant use of mechanistic language, but also the presence of a significant neuroscience literature using topological and dynamical explanatory language, which grows over time and increasingly differentiates from each other and from mechanistic explanations.

Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Kostic, Danieldaniel.kostic@gmail.com0000-0001-5729-1476
Additional Information: Accepted in Synthese
Keywords: Scientific Explanation; neuroscience; text mining, explanatory pluralism.
Subjects: General Issues > Data
General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
Depositing User: Dr. Daniel Kostic
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2023 14:02
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2023 14:02
Item ID: 22445
Subjects: General Issues > Data
General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
Date: 2023

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item