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Figuring out what is happening: the discovery of two electrophysiological phenomena.

  • Bechtel, William
  • Vagnino, Richard
Publication Date
May 01, 2022
eScholarship - University of California
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Research devoted to characterizing phenomena is underappreciated in philosophical accounts of scientific inquiry. This paper develops a diachronic analysis of research over 100 years that led to the recognition of two related electrophysiological phenomena, the membrane potential and the action potential. A diachronic perspective allows for reconciliation of two threads in philosophical discussions of phenomena-Hacking's treatment of phenomena as manifest in laboratory settings and Bogen and Woodward's construal of phenomena as regularities in the world. The diachronic analysis also reveals the epistemic tasks that contribute to establishing phenomena, including the development of appropriate investigative techniques and concepts for characterizing them.

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