Philosophy and Neuroscience
Philosophy and Neuroscience: A Ruthlessly Reductive Account is the first book-length treatment of philosophical issues and implications in current cellular and molecular neuroscience. John Bickle articulates a philosophical justification for investigating "lower level" neuroscientific research and describes a set of experimental details that have recently yielded the reduction of memory consolidation to the molecular mechanisms of long-term potentiation (LTP). These empirical details suggest answers to recent philosophical disputes over the nature and possibility of psycho-neural scientific reduction, including the multiple realization challenge, mental causation, and relations across explanatory levels. Bickle concludes by examining recent work in cellular neuroscience pertaining to features of conscious experience, including the cellular basis of working memory, the effects of explicit selective attention on single-cell activity in visual cortex, and sensory experiences induced by cortical microstimulation. This final chapter poses a challenge both to "mysterians," who insist that empirical science cannot address particular features of consciousness, and to cognitivists, who insist that addressing consciousness scientifically will require experimental and theoretical resources that go beyond those used in neuroscience's cellular and molecular core.
Bickle develops all scientific and philosophical concepts in detail, making this book accessible to specialists, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates in either philosophy or the empirical brain and cognitive sciences. Philosophers of science, mind, neuroscience, and psychology, neuroscientists working at a variety of levels, and cognitive scientists-or anyone interested in interactions between contemporary philosophy and science and the nature of reduction-in-practice that informs current mainstream neuroscience-will find discussions pertinent to their concerns.