BARBERIS Sergio Daniel
congresos y reuniones científicas
Adaptationism and Optimality in the Neurosciences
Encuentro; III Encuentro de Filosofía de las Ciencias Cognitivas y las Neurociencias; 2018
Universidad Nacional de Córdoba
How do optimality models explain in neuroscience? Some philosophers would find most appealing to argue that optimality models explain in virtue of representing some non-causal, non-mechanistic aspects of the world the explanandum phenomenon depends on. Collin Rice claims that optimality models in evolutionary biology provide an explanation of this sort, to wit: equilibrium explanation. I offer several reasons to think that the interpretation of the explanatory payoff of optimality models in neuroscience in terms of equilibrium explanations is wrong-headed. The distinctive piece of explanatory information provided by equilibrium explanations is that the actual initial conditions and the actual causal trajectory of the target system are not important for understanding why the target explanandum occurred, because many alternative causal histories of the population would have produced the same outcome. In general, equilibrium explanations in evolutionary biology are possible because several idealizing assumptions play an essential role in the model?s derivation of why the optimal trait according to natural selection is expected to evolve in the population. I am not convinced that optimality models in neuroscience assume, either explicitly or implicitly, that natural selection drives the phenotype towards the optimum.