Project

Back to overview

Simulation and counterfactual reasoning in neuroscience

English title Simulation and counterfactual reasoning in neuroscience
Applicant Hladky Michal
Number 184193
Funding scheme Doc.Mobility
Research institution Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Sciences London School of Economics
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.01.2019 - 31.10.2020
Show all

Keywords (5)

Counterfactual reasoning; Model; Neuroscience; Epistemology of simulations; Simulation

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Neurosciences déploient de divers techniques de simulation afin de comprendre un des objet les plus complexes - le cerveau humain. Les analyses philosophiques de ces techniques sont fragmentées et l’épistémologie des simulations est peu développée. Ce projet vise à définir les simulation et à analyser leur dimension épistémique en reconstruisant les structures inférentielles et le raisonnement contrefactuel produisant de nouvelles connaissances relatives au fonctionnement des structures neuronales.
Lay summary

Les techniques de simulation gagnent de plus en plus d’importance en sciences empiriques. En neurosciences, dans le cadre du Human Brain Project (HBP), des simulations computationnelles réalistes sont mises en place afin de découvrir de divers mécanismes sous-jacentes aux activités et fonctions du cerveau.

Ces pratiques scientifiques relativement récentes ouvrent une série de questions en philosophie des sciences et en épistémologie. Est-ce que les simulations computationnelles peuvent générer de nouvelles connaissances et si oui, comment ? Quelle type d’inférence et de justification sont déployées dans ces processus ? Les techniques de simulation, sont-elles aussi fiables que les méthodes plus traditionnelles expérimentales ? Est-ce qu’on devrait analyser les simulations comme expériences, comme théories ou devrait-on développer une catégorie sui generis avec une nouvelle analyse épistémique ?

Je propose une définition des simulations basée sur la théorie des modèles qui permet de faire une distinction entre les expériences in silico et les simulation des expériences dans le contexte de HBP. Dans la recherche actuelle, je vais appliquer ma définition pour développer une analyse épistémique des techniques de simulation. Je vais étudier et reconstruire des structures inférentielles utilisées en neurosciences avec un focus sur les suppositions, les justifications et la portée des conclusions. En combinant les analyses contrefactuelles de la causalité et de la connaissance avec l’analyse physicaliste de computation, il est possible de clarifier des questions épistémiques diverses sans développement d’une épistémologie ou d’une philosophie des sciences radicalement nouvelles.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 28.11.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Lake Geneva Biological Interest Group (lgBIG) Individual talk Neuroscience without Brains: Perspectives on In Silico Methods 31.03.2020 University of Geneva, Switzerland Hladky Michal;
Research seminar in philosophy of natural science (Prof. R. Frigg) Individual talk Models and Imagination: Knowledge Is Not Fiction 10.02.2020 London School of Economics (LSE), Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS), Great Britain and Northern Ireland Hladky Michal;
Scientific retreat of the ‘What if?’ research group Talk given at a conference Mapping vs. Representational Accounts of Models and Simulations 18.01.2020 Hegne / University of Konstanz, Germany Hladky Michal;
Neuroscience without Brains: In Silico Experiments Talk given at a conference It.Si.Cat 2020 - work in progress workshop 03.01.2020 University of Catania, Italy Hladky Michal;
PhD Research Seminar, London School of Economics (LSE), Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS) Individual talk Neuroscience without Brains: Perspectives on In Silico Experiments 07.11.2019 London School of Economics, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Hladky Michal;
Research seminar in philosophy of natural science (Prof. R. Frigg) Individual talk Presentation of “The Fiction View of Models”, Chapter 6 In Modelling Nature (Draft) 28.10.2019 London School of Economics (LSE), Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS), Great Britain and Northern Ireland Hladky Michal;
7th International Conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association Poster Neuroscience without Brains: In Silico Experiments - Poster 11.09.2019 University of Geneva, Switzerland Hladky Michal;
Epistemology of Analogue Simulation Talk given at a conference Digital Is Analogue : Analogue Experiments, in Silico Experiments and Simulations 10.09.2019 University of Geneva, Switzerland Hladky Michal;
16th International Congress on Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science and Technology (CLMPST) Talk given at a conference Mapping vs. Representational Accounts of Models and Simulations 05.08.2019 Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic Hladky Michal;
Biennial meeting of the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology - ISHPSSB Talk given at a conference Mapping vs. Representational Accounts of Models and Simulations 07.07.2019 University of Oslo, Norway Hladky Michal;
Fifth FINO Graduate Conference in Mind, Language and Science / SIFA Midterm Conference Fiction and Imagination as Grounds for Counterfactual Reasoning, Scientific Modeling, and Thought Experiments Talk given at a conference Imaginary Invalid! Deflating the Model Bubble (with Steve Humbert-Droz) 17.06.2019 University of Turin, Italy Hladky Michal;
Philosophy of Science PhD Colloquium, Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP) Talk given at a conference Mapping vs. Representational Accounts of Models and Simulations 14.06.2019 Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP), Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich , Germany Hladky Michal;
IHPST - Philosophy of Science doctoral seminar Individual talk Mapping vs. Representational Accounts of Models and Simulations 15.03.2019 Institut d’Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques (IHPST), France Hladky Michal;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Working Models Reading Group - Scientific models and related topics 31.10.2020 CPNSS, LSE London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland
ItSiCat 2020 - work in progress workshop 03.01.2020 University of Catania, Italy
EPSA19: Junior scholar get together: Our role in EPSA 10.09.2019 University of Geneva, Switzerland
CUSO Summer school on recursion theory and philosophy 05.08.2019 University of Geneva, Switzerland
Talking Things Reading Group - Models, theories, logic, language and metaphysics 19.03.2019 MCMP, LMU Munich, Germany
Computation and Cybernetics Reading Group 31.01.2019 MCMP, LMU Munich, Germany

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
160024 Simulation and Counterfactual Reasoning in Neuroscience 01.09.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Simulations gain an increasing importance in empirical sciences. In neuroscience, the Human Brain Project (HBP) relies on large-scale realistic computer simulations aiming at discovering various mechanisms underlying brain activities. This relatively new scientific practice opens several questions in philosophy of science and in epistemology. Can computer simulations generate new knowledge and if so how? What kind of inferences and justifications are used? Are simulations as reliable as the traditional experimental methods? Should simulations be treated as experiments, as theories or do we need to develop a special sui generis category with a new epistemology? I have proposed an ontological account of simulations based on model theory and set theory that was applied to distinguish between in silico experiments and simulation of experiments in the context of HBP. In the subsequent research, I will apply my definitions in the context of epistemology. I will study and reconstruct various inferential patterns used in neuroscience, focusing on assumptions, justification and the scope of conclusions. By combining the counter-factual analysis of causation and of knowledge together with the physicalist account of computation, it is possible to clarify different epistemic questions without a radically new epistemology or philosophy of science.
-