Publication details [#10083]

Slaney, Kathleen L. and Michael D. Maraun. 2005. Analogy and metaphor running amok: An examination of the use of explanatory devices in neuroscience. 20 pp. URL


Kathleen Slaney and Michael Maraun (2005) make a recent addition to the ongoing philosophical attack on certain uses of language in the neurosciences. In 'Analogy and Metaphor Running Amok', they argue that neuroscientists commonly misapply terms that are specific to whole persons to their constituent parts, i.e. their brains or neurons. They hold “that the use of these and other similar literary devices in neuroscientific research sometimes leads to certain conceptual confusions and, thus, fails to aid in clarifying the nature of those phenomena they are intended to explain” (154). Slaney and Maraun’s critique goes beyond this, however. They repeatedly argue that various uses of language in neuroscience are incorrect, fallacious, or nonsensical. (J. M. Sytsma)