The overall research question of this project concerns the norms and practices by which simplicity and generalizability are applied as criteria for the development of models of multi-level mechanisms in neuroscience. By determining on the basis of several in-depth case studies how these criteria are, and should be, applied in current neuroscientific research, this project aims to clarify how the best multi-level mechanistic explanations are developed and selected. Thus, it is expected to not only contribute to an improved philosophical conception of mechanistic explanation in neuroscience, but to also deliver normative guidelines for current scientific research. More concretely, the aims of this project are fourfold: (1) Generally, to develop an improved philosophical account of multi-level mechanistic explanation in neuroscience, with an emphasis on simplicity and generalizability as criteria of explanatory adequacy. (2) To articulate an account of simplicity as a criterion for assessing the explanatory adequacy of multi-level mechanistic explanations. (3) To articulate an improved understanding of generalizability in mechanistic explanatory practice. (4) Finally, a scientific objective is to articulate normative guidelines for model-development and model-selection to be used in future neuroscientific research.
The project will consist of two closely inter-locked subprojects, carried out by two research teams at Witten/Herdecke University and the University of Magdeburg.
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