Title

Optogenetics, pluralism, and progress

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-1-2018

Journal

Philosophy of Science

Volume

85

Issue

5

First Page

1090

Last Page

1101

URL with Digital Object Identifier

10.1086/699724

Abstract

© 2018 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved. Optogenetic techniques are described as “revolutionary” for the unprecedented causal control they allow neuroscientists to exert over neural activity in awake-behaving animals. In this article, I demonstrate by means of a case study that optogenetic techniques will only illuminate causal links between the brain and behavior to the extent that their error characteristics are known and, further, that determining these error characteristics requires (1) comparison of optogenetic techniques with techniques having well-known error characteristics (methodological pluralism) and (2) consideration of the broader neural and behavioral context in which the targets of optogenetic interventions are situated ( perspectival pluralism).

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