PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Structures, dynamics and mechanisms in neuroscience – an integrative account

Some proponents of mechanistic explanations have recently proclaimed that all explanations in the neurosciences appeal to mechanisms. The purpose of the paper is to critically assess this statement and to develop an integrative account. I shall defend four theses about the relationship between dynamical and mechanistic explanations: that dynamical explanations are essentially structural, that they are multiply realizable, possess realizing mechanisms and provide a powerful top-down heuristic close to a deductivenomological explanation. I shall use four examples to illustrate my points: the harmonic oscillator, the Haken-Kelso-Bunz model of bimanual coordination, the Watt governor and the Gierer-Meinhardt model of biological pattern formation.

Author Information:

Holger Lyre    
Philosophy Department
University of Magdeburg


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