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Tinkering in the Lab

5 February 2021
15-17 Greenwhich Mean Time
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Abstract. The “science-in-practice” movement has brought wider philosophical attention to aspects of day-to-day science less closely tied to the issue of theory and its relationship to the world. And recent philosophy of neuroscience has contributed mightily to an emerging “philosophy of experiment.” But a focus on the development of research tools in wetlab sciences like neurobiology illustrates not just the dependence of theory on these tools, but a further dependence of these tools on atheoretical laboratory “tinkering.” Toward these ends of explicating laboratory “tinkering” as a part of scientific practice, and of further “putting theory in its place” in wetlab sciences, I focus here on the development of two neurobiology lab tools that revolutionized the field in the 20th century: the metal microelectrode and the patch clamp. Both of these tools beautifully illustrate these two ends.
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John Bickle (Mississippi State University &
University of Mississippi Medical Center)
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