Two challenges for a boolean approach to constitutive inference

  • Jens HarbeckeEmail author
Paper in the Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. EPSA17: Selected papers from the biannual conference in Exeter


This paper discusses two challenges for a Boolean method for establishing constitutive regularity statements which, according to the regularity theory of mechanistic constitution, form the core of any mechanistic explanation in neuroscience. After presenting the regularity definition for the constitution relation and a methodology for constitutive inference, the paper discusses the problem of full variation of tested mechanistic factors and the problem of informational redundancy. A solution is offered for each problem. The first requires some adjustments to the original theory by introducing the technical notion of a set of types satisfying independent instantiability. The second one is resolved by demonstrating that the problem of informational redundancy is based on a confusion that fails to challenge the theory. It is concluded that the methodology of constitutive inference is consistent and plausible with respect to actual practice in neuroscience.


Mechanistic explanation Mechanistic constitution Constitutive inference Boolean inference method Multi-level models 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy of Science, Department of Economics and Department of PsychologyWitten/Herdecke UniversityWittenGermany

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