Understanding Stability in Cognitive Neuroscience Through Hacking's Lens

Philosophical Inquiries (1):189-208 (2021)
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Ian Hacking instigated a revolution in 20th century philosophy of science by putting experiments (“interventions”) at the top of a philosophical agenda that historically had focused nearly exclusively on representations (“theories”). In this paper, I focus on a set of conceptual tools Hacking (1992) put forward to understand how laboratory sciences become stable and to explain what such stability meant for the prospects of unity of science and kind discovery in experimental science. I first use Hacking’s tools to understand sources of instability and disunity in rodent behavioral neuroscience. I then use them to understand recent grass-roots collaborative open science initiatives aimed at establishing stability in this research area and tease out some implications for unity of science and kind creation and discovery in cognitive neuroscience.

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Jacqueline Anne Sullivan
University of Western Ontario


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