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Baetu Tudor | Fellow Visitor
2023-09-18 - 2023-10-07 | Research area: Philosophy of Biology
The Methodology of Interdisciplinary Research: The Case of Pain

Pain research offers one of the best examples of interdisciplinarity. More than four decades ago, Melzack and Wall famously proposed that the quality and intensity of pain experience are modulated by a neural circuit integrating inputs from nociceptors and information from brain ar-eas associated with cognitive and emotional appraisal. The proposal opened the door to a variety of biopsychosocial models according to which pain experience is determined by the interaction among biological, psychological and social factors (1). Not only these models account for the multiple phe-nomenological dimensions of pain experience, they also correctly predict that pain can be controlled by a wide variety of means, from pharmaceutical interventions to cognitive-behavioural therapy. Yet, despite these successes, many aspects of interdisciplinary research are poorly understood. Dif-ferent disciplines rely on different experimental techniques, standards of explanatory relevance, the-oretical backgrounds, and sometimes even different metaphysical assumptions. This raises important questions that have not been satisfactorily addressed in the philosophical and scientific literature. In particular, it is not clear what justifies the aggregation of empirical findings generated by different disci-plines, and how the claim that outcomes are the result of interactions between biological, psychological and social causes should be understood from an epistemological and metaphysical standpoint. The goal of my current project is to address these questions by providing a philosophical analysis of the meth-odological foundations of interdisciplinary research and of their epistemological and metaphysical implications.