Mechanistic Explanations in Psychiatry
The idea that cognitive neuroscientists give mechanistic explanations of cognitive phenomena has become increasingly popular in the philosophy of science. Several philosophers and psychiatrists (e.g., Kendler, Zachar and Craver 2011; Kendler 2012) have argued that the mechanistic explanatory strategy can be applied to psychiatric disorders as well. This subproject will address some of the most important challenges to such an approach and show how this contributes to a better understanding of the notion of translation. The subproject will focus on the following main questions: a) how do metaphors facilitate and constrain the description of psychopathological phenomena to be explained mechanistically?, b) does the network model proposed by Borsboom et al. (2018) support an account of psychiatric disorders as extended mechanisms, whose components are distributed across brain, body, and the environment?, c) to what extent do explanations in systems neuroscience count as mechanistic explanations, and does reciprocal causation pose a problem for the mechanistic approach?, and d) how should we understand the interplay between mechanism and environment in cases of psychopathology, and can we capture the intentionality of psychiatric disorders in terms of the mechanisms that constitute them at a lower level of explanation?
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