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Abstract: Philosophy and Neuroscience is an unabashed apologetic for reductionism in philosophy of mind. Bickle chides his fellow philosophers for their ignorance of mainstream neuroscience, and promises them that a subscription to Cell, Neuron, or any other journal in mainstream neuroscience will be amply rewarded. Rather than being bogged down in the intricacies of two-dimensional semantics or the ontology of properties, philosophers of mind need to get neuroscientifically informed and ruthlessly reductive
Abstract: The idea of integrating evolutionary biology and psychology has great promise, but one that will be compromised if psychological functions are conceived too abstractly and neuroscience is not allowed to play a contructive role. We argue that the proper integration of neuroscience, psyychology, and evolutionary biology requires a telelogical as opposed to a merely componential analysis of function. A teleological analysis is required in neuroscience itself; we point to traditional and curent research methods in neuroscience, which make critical use of distinctly teleological functional considerations in brain cartography. Only by invoking teleological criteria can researchers distinguish the fruitful ways of identifying brain components from the myriad of possible ways. One likely reason for reluctance to turn to neuroscience is fear of reduction, but we argue that, in the context of a teleological perspective on function, this concern is misplaced. Adducing such theoretical considerations as top-down and bottom-up constraints on neuroscientific and psychological models, as well as existing cases of productive, multidisciplinary cooperation, we argue that integration of neuroscience into psychology and evolutionary biology is likely to be mutually beneficial. We also show how it can be accommodated methodologically within the framework of an interfield theory
Abstract: Arguments for the autonomy of psychology or other higher-level sciences have often taken the form of denying the possibility of reduction. The form of reduction most proponents and critics of the autonomy of psychology have in mind is theory reduction. Mechanistic explanations provide a different perspective. Mechanistic explanations are reductionist insofar as they appeal to lower-level entities—the component parts of a mechanism and their operations— to explain a phenomenon. However, unlike theory reductions, mechanistic explanations also recognize the fundamental role of organization in enabling mechanisms to engage their environments as units (as well as the role of yet higher-level structures in constraining such engagement). Especially when organization is non-linear, it can enable mechanisms to generate phenomena that are quite surprising given the operations of the components taken in isolation. Such organization must be discovered—it cannot simply be derived from knowledge of lower-level parts and their operations. Moreover, the organized environments in which mechanisms operate must also be discovered. It is typically the higher-level disciplines that have the tools for discovering the organization within and between mechanisms. Although these inquiries are constrained by the knowledge of the parts and operations constituting the mechanism, they make their own autonomous contribution to understanding how a mechanism actually behaves. Thus, mechanistic explanations provide a strong sense of autonomy for higher levels of organization and the inquiries addressing them even while recognizing the distinctive contributions of reductionistic research investigating the operations of the lower level components
Abstract: Psychoneural reduction is under attack again, only this time from a former ally: cognitive neuroscience. It has become popular to think of the brain as a complex system whose theoretically important properties emerge from dynamic, non-linear interactions between its component parts. ``Emergence'' is supposed to replace reduction: the latter is thought to be incapable of explaining the brain qua complex system. Rather than engage this issue at the level of theories of reduction versus theories of emergence, I here emphasize a role that reductionism plays – and will continue to play – even if neuroscience adopts this ``complex systems'' view. In detailed investigations into the function of complex neural circuits, certain questions can only be addressed by moving down levels and scales. This role for reduction also finds a place for approaches that dominate mainstream neuroscience, like the widespread use of experimental techniques and theories from molecular biology and biochemistry. These are difficult to reconcile with the anti-reductionist sentiments of the ``complex systems'' branch of cognitive neuroscience
Abstract: The paper works towards an account of explanatory integration in biology, using as a case study explanations of the evolutionary origin of novelties-a problem requiring the integration of several biological fields and approaches. In contrast to the idea that fields studying lower level phenomena are always more fundamental in explanations, I argue that the particular combination of disciplines and theoretical approaches needed to address a complex biological problem and which among them is explanatorily more fundamental varies with the problem pursued. Solving a complex problem need not require theoretical unification or the stable synthesis of different biological fields, as items of knowledge from traditional disciplines can be related solely for the purposes of a specific problem. Apart from the development of genuine interfield theories, successful integration can be effected by smaller epistemic units (concepts, methods, explanations) being linked. Unification or integration is not an aim in itself, but needed for the aim of solving a particular scientific problem, where the problem's nature determines the kind of intellectual integration required
Abstract: G&S describe the radical neuron doctrine in a number of slightly different ways, and we think this hides an important distinction. On the one hand, the radical neuron doctrine is supposed to have the consequence "that a successful theory of the mind will make no reference to anything like the concepts of linguistics or the psychological sciences as we currently understand them", and so Chomskyan linguistics "is doomed from the beginning" (sect. 2.2.2, paras. 2,3). (Note that `a successful theory' must be read as `any successful theory', else the inference will fail.) On the other hand, the radical neuron doctrine is said to be the claim "that emergent psychological properties can be explained by low-level neurobiological properties" (sect. 2.3, para. 3). It is clear from the context that this can be more faithfully rendered as: psychological phenomena can be explained in (solely) neurobiological terms. But this formulation of the doctrine does not have the consequence just mentioned
Abstract: Time plays a central role in consciousness, at different levels and in different aspects of information processing. Subliminal perception experiments demonstrate that stimuli presented too briefly to enter conscious awareness are nevertheless processed to some extent. Implicit learning, implicit memory, and conditioning studies suggest that the extent to which memory traces are available for verbal report and for cognitive control is likewise dependent on the time available for processing during acquisition. Differences in the time available for processing also determine not only the extent to which one becomes conscious of action, but also provides the basis for making attributions of authorship to experienced acts. In this paper, we offer a brief overview of these different findings and suggest that they can all be understood based on the fact that consciousness takes time. From this perspective, the availability of representations to conscious awareness depends on the quality of these representations — the extent to which they are strong, stable in time, and distinctive. High-quality representations occur when processes of global competition have had sufficient time to operate so as to make the system settle into the best possible interpretation of the input. Such processes implement global constraint satisfaction and critically depend on reentrant processing, through which representations can be further enriched by high-level constraints. We discuss these ideas in light of current theories of consciousness, emphasizing the fact that consciousness should be viewed as a process rather than as a static property associated with some states and not with others
Abstract: (1) It is not clear from Gold and Stoljar’s definition of biological neuroscience whether it includes computational and representational concepts. If so, then their evaluation of Kandel’s theory is problematic. If not, then a more direct refutation of the radical neuron doctrine is available. (2) Objections to the psychological sciences might derive not just from the conflation of the radical and the trivial neuron doctrine. There might also be the implicit belief that for many mental phenomena, adequate theories must invoke neurophysiological concepts and cannot be purely psychological
Abstract: The idea of integrating evolutionary biology and psychology has great promise, but one that will be compromised if psychological functions are conceived too abstractly and neuroscience is not allowed to play a contructive role. We argue that the proper integration of neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology requires a telelogical as opposed to a merely componential analysis of function. A teleological analysis is required in neuroscience itself; we point to traditional and curent research methods in neuroscience, which make critical use of distinctly teleological functional considerations in brain cartography. Only by invoking teleological criteria can researchers distinguish the fruitful ways of identifying brain components from the myriad of possible ways. One likely reason for reluctance to turn to neuroscience is fear of reduction, but we argue that, in the context of a teleological perspective on function, this concern is misplaced. Adducing such theoretical considerations as top-down and bottom-up constraints on neuroscientific and psychological models, as well as existing cases of productive, multidisciplinary cooperation, we argue that integration of neuroscience into psychology and evolutionary biology is likely to be mutually beneficial. We also show how it can be accommodated methodologically within the framework of an interfield theory