Talk at Bogazici: Emrah Aktunc on “Determining the Underdetermined: Evidence, Inference, and Knowledge in Cognitive Neuroscience.” 18/10/2012
Emrah Aktunc (Koc) will be giving a talk at Bogazici on
“Determining the Underdetermined: Evidence, Inference, and Knowledge in Cognitive Neuroscience.”
Thursday, October 18th from 5-7pm in TB130 (in the philosophy department).
ABSTRACT: Brain images have become central elements in contemporary cognitive science, but the reliability of these images as sources of knowledge has been called into question. The epistemological literature on brain imaging has focused mostly on two major issues; one is the question of whether or not cognitive scientific theories are underdetermined by brain imaging data. The other is the general issue of how the methodological complexity of brain imaging lowers the reliability of inferences in cognitive neuroscience. I will argue that the focus on these two issues has overly narrowed the philosophical discourse on brain imaging and hindered gaining fruitful insights into general questions regarding the kind of knowledge we can gain from brain imaging studies. I will approach the general criticisms of brain imaging as problems of scientific evidence and inference and apply Deborah Mayo’s error-statistical account of experimental inquiry to develop a novel and useful conceptualization of these problems. The error-statistical account helps us realistically clarify the evidential import of brain imaging data and address problems of underdetermination. This will give us a more accurate understanding of what, if anything, we can learn from brain imaging and the nature of experimental knowledge in cognitive neuroscience. Finally, I will discuss the implications of my conclusions in the context of recent Wittgensteinian criticisms of cognitive neuroscience.