Archive for December, 2015

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“Topological Explanation in Neuroscience” (12/04/2015)

December 2, 2015

Morgan Thompson

Abstract:┬áSome hold that mechanistic explanation is the only appropriate kind of explanation in neuroscience. Others have argued that topological explanations, in which the behavior of a system can be derived purely from the topological properties of that system, are an alternative account to mechanistic explanation in ecology and evolutionary biology. I argue that topological explanations exist within neuroscience and are non-mechanistic. In particular, neuroscientists explain the robustness of the macroscale human brain to perturbation by appealing to the topological property of small-worldness. In addition to applying Huneman’s account topological explanation to a case in neuroscience, I provide evidence that the macroscale human brain is appropriately modeled as a small-world network. I conclude that these mechanists should deny the claim that all explanation in neuroscience is mechanistic.

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