Doctor of Philosophy
Dr. Jacqueline Sullivan
The current view of the relationship between areas of the mind-brain sciences is one where cross-disciplinary collaboration is required to advance claims about the mind-brain that stand on firm epistemic footing. My goal in this dissertation is to analyze what it means for information from different areas of science to fit together to produce strong epistemic claims by addressing how and to what extent claims about the mind-brain are corroborated in scientific practice. Philosophers of science have advanced various concepts of the notion of fitting together information from different areas of science and its relation to scientific progress (e.g., Bickle, 1998, 2003, 2006; Darden and Maull, 1977; Mitchell, 2002, 2003; Mitchell and Dietrich, 2006; Nagel 1949, 1970, 1979; Piccinini and Craver, 2011; and Roskies, 2010). However, each concept of fitting together is vague and subject to multiple clarificatory questions. To get a handle on the notion of fitting together, I introduce the term ‘interdisciplinary corroboration’ as a placeholder for the various accounts of fitting together to facilitate my investigation of how claims about the mind-brain are corroborated in scientific practice. I argue review papers are a good place to begin analyzing interdisciplinary corroboration; accordingly, I conduct a two-part analysis of a review paper by Eichenbaum (2013) entitled ‘Memory on Time’. I use the lessons from my analysis to develop and advance a methodology for philosophers of science interested in knowledge production for evaluating review papers for corroboration in the mind-brain sciences.
Summary for Lay Audience
The mind-brain sciences comprises multiple areas of science (e.g., psychology, biology, computational modelling and artificial intelligence, neuroscience, etc.). It has been argued by philosophers of the mind-brain sciences that claims about the mind-brain stand on firm epistemic footing (i.e., that they are well supported) when they are the product of evidence from those respective areas of the mind-brain sciences fitting together. However, the philosophical accounts advocating the notion of fitting together lack a clear explanation as to what constitutes fitting together; what does it mean for pieces of evidence from different areas of science to fit together in such a way that produces epistemically strong claims about the mind-brain? How and to what extent are claims about the mind-brain corroborated in scientific practice? This is the main question I address in my dissertation. I introduce the term ‘interdisciplinary corroboration’ as a placeholder for the various philosophical accounts of fitting together to facilitate my investigation of what it means for claims to be corroborated by interdisciplinary evidence in the mind-brain sciences. My definition of interdisciplinary corroboration reads that claims about the mind-brain are corroborated when interdisciplinary pieces of evidence point towards a general claim and when those pieces of evidence are mutually supportive. I argue that review papers (specifically, Trends in Cognitive Sciences review papers) are a good place to start investigating interdisciplinary corroboration insofar as these papers often contain arguments demonstrating how interdisciplinary evidence combines to corroborate a given claim. To get clear on how exactly this occurs, I conduct a two-part analysis of a review paper by Eichenbaum (2013) entitled ‘Memory on Time’ on the topic of memory organization (i.e., how memories are organized in space and time). My analysis revealed that key information was missing in the review paper that is necessary to properly assess how and to what extent claims about memory organization are corroborated. I use the lessons from my analysis to develop and advance a methodology for evaluating review papers with an eye for corroboration in the mind-brain sciences.
Lanthier, Jaclyn, "Understanding Interdisciplinary Corroboration: Lessons from a Review Paper in the Mind-Brain Sciences" (2019). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 6614.