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The web-model: A new model of explanation for neuroimaging studies

What can neuroimaging tell us about the relation between our brain and our mind? A lot, or so I argue. But neuroscientists should update their model of explanation. Currently, many explanations are (implicitly) based on what I call the ‘mapping model’: a model of explanation which centers on mapping relations between cognition and the brain. I argue that these mappings give us very little information, and that instead, we should focus on finding causal relations. If we take a difference-making approach to causation, we can find manipulation patterns between neural and cognitive phenomena and start constructing satisfying explanations in neuroimaging studies: explanations based on what I call the web-model of explanation. This model of explanation not only contrasts with the mapping model, but is also different from Craver’s constitutive mechanistic model of explanation (2007), which takes the constitutive relation to be the main explanatory relation. Taking the difference-making idea of the importance of manipulation and control seriously, means that sometimes, causal relations are preferred over constitutive relations. If we follow the web-model of explanation, we can do justice to the central role that causation should play in neuroscientific explanations.
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Keywords: causation; explanation; neuroimaging

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2019

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  • Het Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte (ANTW), opgericht in 1908, is een filosofisch wetenschappelijk tijdschrift dat oorspronkelijke artikelen publiceert van auteurs uit het Nederlands-Vlaamse taalgebied. Het ANTW richt zich op een breed scala van deelgebieden, stromingen, discussies en perioden van de filosofie. Het ANTW brengt vier nummers per jaar uit: twee focusnummers waarin steeds één omvangrijk artikel centraal staat van een prominente Nederlandse of Vlaamse filosoof, gevolgd door commentaren en een afsluitende repliek van de focusauteur; een regulier nummer met onderzoeksartikelen, overzichtsartikelen en congresverslagen; en een themanummer met artikelen rond een tevoren vastgesteld thema.

    The Dutch language journal Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte (ANTW), founded in 1908, is a philosophical, academic journal that publishes original articles from authors in the Netherlands and Belgium. ANTW focuses on a broad variety of subjects, trends, discussions and periods in philosophy. ANTW publishes four issues each year: Two Focus Issues that contain one large article from a prominent Dutch or Flemish philosopher (Focus Article), followed by six shorter comments and a closing reply by the focus Author. One regular issue covering research articles, overview articles and congress reports. And one themed issue in which circa six articles focus on certain subjects relevant in philosophy.
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