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Heuristics, Descriptions, and the Scope of Mechanistic Explanation

In P. Braillard & C. Malaterre (eds.), Explanation in Biology. An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 295-318 (2015)

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  1. Computational Cognitive Neuroscience.Carlos Zednik - forthcoming - In Mark Sprevak & Matteo Colombo (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Computational Mind. Routledge.
    This chapter provides an overview of the basic research strategies and analytic techniques deployed in computational cognitive neuroscience. On the one hand, “top-down” strategies are used to infer, from formal characterizations of behavior and cognition, the computational properties of underlying neural mechanisms. On the other hand, “bottom-up” research strategies are used to identify neural mechanisms and to reconstruct their computational capacities. Both of these strategies rely on experimental techniques familiar from other branches of neuroscience, including functional magnetic resonance imaging, single-cell (...)
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  • Applying mechanical philosophy to web science: The case of social machines.Paul R. Smart, Kieron O’Hara & Wendy Hall - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3):1-29.
    Social machines are a prominent focus of attention for those who work in the field of Web and Internet science. Although a number of online systems have been described as social machines, there is, as yet, little consensus as to the precise meaning of the term “social machine.” This presents a problem for the scientific study of social machines, especially when it comes to the provision of a theoretical framework that directs, informs, and explicates the scientific and engineering activities of (...)
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  • Explanation in Biology: An Enquiry Into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences.P.-A. Braillard and C. Malaterre (ed.) - 2015 - Springer.
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  • Mechanism Discovery and Design Explanation: Where Role Function Meets Biological Advantage Function.Dingmar van Eck & Julie Mennes - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (3):413-434.
    In the recent literature on explanation in biology, increasing attention is being paid to the connection between design explanation and mechanistic explanation, viz. the role of design principles and heuristics for mechanism discovery and mechanistic explanation. In this paper we extend the connection between design explanation and mechanism discovery by prizing apart two different types of design explanation and by elaborating novel heuristics that one specific type offers for mechanism discovery across species. We illustrate our claims in terms of two (...)
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  • Information and Explanation: An Inconsistent Triad and Solution.Mark Povich - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-17.
    An important strand in philosophy of science takes scientific explanation to consist in the conveyance of some kind of information. Here I argue that this idea is also implicit in some core arguments of mechanists, some of whom are proponents of an ontic conception of explanation that might be thought inconsistent with it. However, informational accounts seem to conflict with some lay and scientific commonsense judgments and a central goal of the theory of explanation, because information is relative to the (...)
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  • Models and Mechanisms in Network Neuroscience.Carlos Zednik - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology 32 (1):23-51.
    This paper considers the way mathematical and computational models are used in network neuroscience to deliver mechanistic explanations. Two case studies are considered: Recent work on klinotaxis by Caenorhabditis elegans, and a longstanding research effort on the network basis of schizophrenia in humans. These case studies illustrate the various ways in which network, simulation and dynamical models contribute to the aim of representing and understanding network mechanisms in the brain, and thus, of delivering mechanistic explanations. After outlining this mechanistic construal (...)
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  • Horizontal Surgicality and Mechanistic Constitution.Michael Baumgartner, Lorenzo Casini & Beate Krickel - 2018 - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    While ideal interventions are acknowledged by many as valuable tools for the analysis of causation, recent discussions have shown that, since there are no ideal interventions on upper-level phenomena that non-reductively supervene on their underlying mechanisms, interventions cannot—contrary to a popular opinion—ground an informative analysis of constitution. This has led some to abandon the project of analyzing constitution in interventionist terms. By contrast, this paper defines the notion of a horizontally surgical intervention, and argues that, when combined with some innocuous (...)
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