Biorobotic experiments for the discovery of biological mechanisms

Philosophy of Science 74 (3):409-430 (2007)
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Abstract

Robots are being extensively used for the purpose of discovering and testing empirical hypotheses about biological sensorimotor mechanisms. We examine here methodological problems that have to be addressed in order to design and perform “good” experiments with these machine models. These problems notably concern the mapping of biological mechanism descriptions into robotic mechanism descriptions; the distinction between theoretically unconstrained “implementation details” and robotic features that carry a modeling weight; the role of preliminary calibration experiments; the monitoring of experimental environments for disturbing factors that affect both modeling features and theoretically unconstrained implementation details of robots. Various assumptions that are gradually introduced in the process of setting up and performing these robotic experiments become integral parts of the background hypotheses that are needed to bring experimental observations to bear on biological mechanism descriptions.

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References found in this work

Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Functional analysis.Robert E. Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Explanation: a mechanist alternative.William Bechtel & Adele Abrahamsen - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (2):421-441.
Cognitive maps in rats and men.Edward C. Tolman - 1948 - Psychological Review 55 (4):189-208.

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