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

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Causally Interpreting Hodgkin and Huxley

The import of Hodgkin and Huxley’s classic model of the action potential has been hotly debated in recent years. In particular, there has been controversy surrounding claims by prominent proponents of mechanistic explanation (Bogen, 2008; Craver, 2008). For these authors, the Hodgkin-Huxley (HH) model is an excellent predictive tool but ultimately lacks causal/explanatory import. What is more, they claim that this is how Hodgkin and Huxley themselves saw the model. In the following, I argue that these claims rest on a problematic reading of the work. Hodgkin and Huxley’s model is both causal and, in an important sense, explanatory.

Author Information:

David Evan Pence    
History and Philosophy of Science
University of Pittsburgh


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