Forthcoming Synthese issue on Neuroscience and Its Philosophy

As I previously discussed, the journal Synthese publishes a yearly issue on Neuroscience and Its Philosophy. In recent years, this has been perhaps the highest profile venue explicitly devoted to articles in the philosophy of neuroscience.

For the first seven years or so, the editor of this Synthese special issue was John Bickle.  Last year, John kindly invited me to take over this editorial task beginning with the 2011 issue, and I was happy to accept.

Anyone doing good work in the philosophy of neuroscience should consider submitting their papers to Synthese’s yearly issue on Neuroscience and Its Philosophy.  An explicit option Neuroscience and Its Philosophy is available in Editorial Manager (Synthese’s online submission system), which option can be selected when submitting a paper to Synthese. When you choose that option, I am in charge of refereeing your paper. There was an unfortunate glitch when the system was originally set up and that glitch delayed the first couple of submissions.  Since then, the submission system has been running smoothly.  I do my best to provide an efficient, fair, and helpful review process.

The integrity of Synthese’s editorial process has been recently questioned in relation to a special issue on intelligent design.  All I can say is that I have dealt with John Symons as editor in chief; he has been very supportive of our yearly special issue; and in my experience no one has ever interfered with the integrity of the editorial process in any way.  We remain committed to publishing the best work on neuroscience and its philosophy.

I’m happy to announce that the 2011 special issue is now in press.  It will be the last issue of the year, i.e. 183:3.  It is devoted to functional analysis and mechanistic explanation. It contains a selection of papers on this topic that were presented at the Pacific APA:

Gualtiero Piccinini and Carl Craver, Integrating Psychology and Neuroscience: Functional Analyses as Mechanism Sketches
Dan Weiskopf, Models and Mechanisms in Psychological Explanation
David Kaplan, Explanation and Description in Computational Neuroscience
Mark Couch, Mechanisms and Constitutive Relevance
Jonathan Waskan, Mechanistic Explanation at the Limit
Jim Woodward, Mechanisms Revisited

I’m also happy to say that we already have three papers accepted for the 2012 special isssue:

Brandon Towl, Laws and Constrained Kinds: A Lesson from Motor Neuroscience
Holly Andersen, The Case for Regularity in Mechanistic Explanation
Mitchell Herschbach, Mirroring versus Simulation: On the Representational Function of Simulation

There is room for a few more papers in the 2012 issue.  And then there is 2013, etc.  Submit away!



  1. Looks good, G!

    Can someone recommend an overview for the uninitiated on the mechanisms hullaballoo, especially as pertains to phil neuro? The platonic ideal of this would be very much like a Philosophy Compass piece.

  2. Mohan Matthen

    I really wish you hadn’t put in that paragraph about the integrity of the editorial process at Synthese.

    “In my experience p” implies “I have no reason to doubt p, (and actually I kind of believe it)” (at least in my dialect). So “in my experience no one has ever interfered with the integrity of the editorial process in any way” suggests to me that you deny that anything bad happened in that ID issue.

    Did you mean this? I hope not. Synthese behaved badly then, and though I don’t have a problem with the Neuroscience special issue, I wouldn’t like you to be denying or endorsing that bad behaviour.

  3. gualtiero


    thanks for your comment. no, i didn’t mean that. i now see that my comment may be read that way. but my experience with Synthese is limited to editing the special issue on Neuroscience and Its Philosophy.

    so in my case, “in my experience p” means simply “in editing the Synthese special issue on Neuroscience and Its Philosophy p”.

  4. Mohan Matthen

    Clear only to somebody who doesn’t know the context. Gualtiero was generous and forthright enough to clarify. I fail to see how you are helping by muddying the waters all over again.

  5. David Kaplan


    Carl Craver and I recently wrote an overview piece for The Continuum Companion to the Philosophy of Science (2011) that tries to do precisely this. Our paper, Towards a Mechanistic Philosophy of Neuroscience, aims to provide an overview to some of the major issues in the philosophy of neuroscience as viewed from the mechanistic perspective. If you send me an email I can send you a copy or you can check out the book, which is now in print. I’d be interested to know what you think.



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