Presentation on theme: "Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science Ghent University Blandijnberg 2 Ghent, Belgium The problem of explanation in the mind/brain sciences: “Moreover,"— Presentation transcript:
Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science Ghent University Blandijnberg 2 Ghent, Belgium The problem of explanation in the mind/brain sciences: “Moreover, we must confess that perception, and what depends on it, is inexplicable in terms of mechanical reasons, that is, through shapes and motions. If we imagine that there is a machine whose structure makes it think, sense, and have perceptions, we could conceive it enlarged, keeping the same proportions, so that we could enter into it, as one enters into a mill. Assuming that, when inspecting its interior, we will only find parts that push one another, and we will never find anything to explain a perception. And so, we should seek perception in the simple substance and not in the composite or in the machine” - Leibniz in the Monadology Van Fraassen and the erotetic model of explanation Explanations as answers to why questions. Three elements are important: the topic, foil and relevance relation. r. Hardcastle restates the problem in erotetic terms: “So then, if neuroscientific explanations are going to compete with psychological ones with respect to a set of questions, the contrast class for the two domains questions would have to correspond. But because psychology and neuroscience operate in such different academic environments, prima facie it is doubtful that the contrast classes do correspond. At least, we would need an argument that the contrast classes are importantly similar.” - Hardcastle, On the Matter of Minds and Causation Preliminary restatement of the problem: In effect, the problem is not about bridging vocabularies, but of giving an account how an answer can be relevant to a question, even though it is couched in terms of a different scientific discipline. Conclusion: Different types of questions are posed to serve different kind of functions or interests. These can range from intellectual curiosity to controll, prediction and therapy. The relevance of a given answer is thus determined by the degree to which it satisfies this interest. On this account, it is understandable that psychological questions might receive answers couched in neurological terms or vice versa. The research presented on this poster is part of a project entitled: “A pragmatic theory of scientific explanation”, headed by Prof. dr. Erik Weber, dr. Jeroen Van Bouwel and dr. Maarten Van Dyck. Psychological explanation: towards a pragmatic account Distinguishing different interests and question types. Why does x have property P, rather than the ideal property P*? (I-type) Why does x have property P, while y has the ideal property P*? (I’-type) Why does x have property P, rather than the expected property P*? (E-type) Why does x have property P at time t, but property P* at time t’? (T-Type) I- and I-type questions are typically motivated by therapeutic interests, E- and T- type questions by surprise. P and P* are mutually exclusive properties. Let us consider some hypothetical examples. We are motivated by surprise and therapeutic interests in asking these questions. The answer to this question should explicate some kind of contrast. But there is nothing to suggest that the contrast must be at the level of the question. Focussing on the interests in question makes it clear that appropriatenes has something to do with how well an answer serves our need.