In search of the neurobiological basis of decison-making, explanation, reduction and emergence

Michele Di FrancescoMatteo MotterliniMatteo Colombo Functional Neurology , XXII, n.4, pp. 197-204 - 2007


Functional Neurology

In recent years, the study of decision making has provided a paradigmatic case of “crossbreeding” of different disciplines. The integration of economics, psychology and neurosciences within neuroeconomics calls for more accurate and comprehensive models of human rationality, which may be obtained by combining diverse theoretical approaches and experimental techniques. In this respect, neuroeconomics contributes to a naturalistic, brain-based, explanation of human agency. However, although contemporary naturalism insists on the unitary aspect of reality, we stress that supporting unitary study of nature is not the same as supporting a single, fundamental discipline to which all higher-order analyses could (or should) be reduced. We argue for integration, rather than reduction, as the best approach to a naturalistic explanation of human decision making, and we claim that supporting epistemological pluralism does not mean being committed to any specific ontological position. However, we suggest that an “emergentist” ontology is the best candidate to integrate the epistemological analysis here endorsed.

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