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Carl F. Craver

​Professor of Philosophy and Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology
PhD, University of Pittsburgh
research interests:
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • History of Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuropsychology
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    • Washington University
    • CB 1073
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    ​Professor Craver is a philosopher of neuroscience with side interests in the history and philosophy of biology, general philosophy of science, metaphysics, and moral psychology.

    Professor Craver is a philosopher of neuroscience trying to understand how minds fit in a world of causes. His 2007 book, Explaining the Brain, is now considered a locus classicus in the new mechanistic philosophy. The book develops a philosophically grounded but scientifically attentive model of how we explain things by describing their mechanisms at multiple levels of organization. The book builds a systematic model of mechanisms and levels out of philosophically familiar ontological resources (causation and part/whole relations) and shows how the experimental practices of the special sciences are organized in the service of establishing these multilevel mechanistic relations. It has become a much-cited touchstone inside and outside philosophy for articulating the explanatory aims of the neurosciences. 

    His 2013 book in collaboration with Lindley Darden at the University of Maryland, In Search of Mechanisms: Discoveries Across the Life Sciences extends his work on explanation with an historically grounded book about how scientists make discoveries in mechanistic sciences. This book embodies the Baconian spirit of seeking to codify a clear expression of the norms that animate science and that justify respect for science as a way of knowing the world (a central, animating commitment that runs throughout Craver's work). 

    More recently, Craver is pursuing topics in psychiatric genetics and neuropsychology. His work in psychiatric genetics, in collaboration with a group headed by Ken Kendler at Virginia Commonwealth University since 2017, asks whether, and if so how, data from GWAS can be mined to yield coherent mechanistic information about psychiatric disorders. His neuropsychology research, in collaboration with a group headed by Shayna Rosenbaum at York University since 2010, studies individuals with episodic amnesia to discover how remembrance does (and, crucially, does not) figure essentially in the lives distinctive of persons. This latter project is the subject of a new book-in-progress, tentatively titled: Living without Memory

    You can get a sense of his research by visiting his google scholar page and tracing the links to individual papers.


    Craver, C.F. and Darden, Lindley (2013) In Search of Mechanisms: Discoveries Across the Life SciencesUniversity of Chicago Press.

    Craver, C.F. (2007) Explaining the Brain: Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience, Clarendon Press: Oxford.

    Published Articles

    Craver, C.F. and Kirckel, B. (forthcoming) "Mechanism" in Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy

    Craver, C.F. and Rosenbaum, S.R. (2018) "Consent without Memory" in Michalean, K. ed. New Essays in the Philosophy of Memory.

    Povich, M. and Craver, C.F. (2018) "Review of Lange’s Because without Cause" The Philosophical Review.

    Reimers, M. and Craver, CF (2018) "The Coherence Problem: Finding Meaning in GWAS ComplexityBehavioral Genetics.

    Henry, J. and Craver, C.F. (2018) "Episodic Memory as Epistemic Trump CardBehavioral and Brain Sciences.

    Craver, C.F. and Kaplan, D. (2018) "Are More Details Better? On the Norms of Completeness for Mechanistic Explanations." British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

    Keven, N., Kurczek, J., Rosenbaum, R.S., Craver, C.F. (2018) "Narrative Construction is Intact in Episodic AmnesiaNeuropsychologia.

    Craver, C.F. and Povich, M. (2018) "The Directionality of Distinctively Mathematical Explanations.Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science.

    Craver, C.F. and Povich, M. (2017) "Levels, Reduction, and Emergence" S. Gennan and P. Illari, eds., Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms. 

    Craver, C.F. (2017) "The Explanatory Force of Network ModelsPhilosophy of Science.

    Craver, C.F. (2017) "Stochastic Supervenience" in Feest and Biener, eds. Doing HPS with Peter Machamer. 

    Kaplan, D.M. and Craver, C.F. (2016) "A Registration Problem for Functional Fingerprints" BBS Commentary. 39: e124.

    Craver, C.F., Keven, N., Kwan, D., Kruczek, J., Duff, M., Rosenbaum, R.S. (2016) "Moral Judgment in Episodic AmnesiaHippocampus.

    Rosenbaum, R. S., D. Kwan, D. Floden, B. Levine, D. T. Stuss, and C. F. Craver. (2015). "No Evidence of Risk-Taking or Impulsive Behaviour in a Person with Episodic Amnesia: Implications for the Role of the Hippocampus in Future-Regarding Decision-Making." The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1–13.

    Craver, C.F. and J. Tabery (2015) "Mechanisms in Science" Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

    Craver, C.F. (2015) "Reflections on Neuro-Memory Studies.Memory Studies. 8: 117-124.

    Kwan, D., C.F. Craver, L. Green, J. Myerson, F. Gao, S.E. Black, R. S. Rosenbaum (2015) "Cueing the Personal Future to Reduce Discounting in Intertemporal Choice: Is Episodic Prospection Necessary?Hippocampus 25: 432-443.

    Craver, C.F. (2015) "Levels." OpenMIND project.

    Malinowski, S. and Craver, C.F. (2014) "The Spine Problem: Finding a Function for Dendritic Spines." Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 8: 95 doi: 10.3389/fnana.2014.00095

    Craver, C.F., Cova, F., Green, L., Myerson, J., Kwan, D., Rosenbaum, S.F., and Bourgeois-Gironde, S. (2014) "An Allais Paradox without Mental Time TravelHippocampus. DOI: 10.1002/hipo.22318.

    Craver, C.F. Kwan, D., Steindam, C., and Rosenbaum, R.S. (2014) "Individuals with Episodic Amnesia are not Stuck in TimeNeuropsychologia 57:191-195.

    Craver, C.F., Graham, B., and Rosenbaum, R.S. (2014) "Remembering Mr. BCortex DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2013.11.001.

    Kwan, D., Craver, C.F., Green, L., Myerson, J., Rosenbaum, S. R. (2013) "Dissociations in Future Thinking Following Hippocampal Damage: Evidence from Discounting and Time Perspective in Episodic AmnesiaJournal of Experimental Psychology, General.

    Romero, F., Craver, C.F., (2013) "Dispositions" The Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology, Wiley-Blackwell.

    Craver, C.F. (2013) "Mechanisms, multilevelSpringer Encyclopedia of Systems Biology.

    Craver, C.F. and Bechtel, W. (2013) "Interlevel CausationSpringer Encyclopedia of Systems Biology.

    Craver, C.F. (2013) "The Ontic Conception of Scientific Explanation" in Andreas Hütteman and Marie Kaiser eds. Explanation in the Biological and Historical Sciences. Springer.

    Kaiser, M. and Craver, C.F. (2013) "Mechanisms and Laws: Clarifying the Debate" in Hsiang-Ke Chao, Szu-Ting Chen and Roberta L. Millstein, eds. Mechanism and Causality in Biology and Economics. Chapter 7.

    Craver, C.F. (2012) "A Preliminary Case For Amnesic Selves: Toward a Clinical Moral PsychologySocial Cognition, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 449-473.

    Kwan, D., Craver, C.F., Green, L., Myerson, J., Boyer, P. Rosenbaum, S. (2012) "Future Decision-Making without Mental Time TravelHippocampus 22: 1215-19.

    Craver, C.F. (2012) "Functions and Mechanisms: A Perspectivalist Account" (English Version) in P. Huneman, ed. Functions, Springer.

    Piccinini, G. and Craver, C.F. (2011) “Integrating Psychology and Neuroscience: Functional Analyses as Mechanism Sketches” Synthese 183: 283-311.

    Kaplan, D.M. and Craver, C.F. (2011) "The Explanatory Force of Dynamical ModelsPhilosophy of Science 78 (4): 601-627.

    Craver, C.F. and Kaplan, D.M. (2011) "Towards a Mechanistic Philosophy of Neuroscience: A Mechanistic Approach" Peter French and J Saatsi eds. Introduction to the Philosophy of Science.

    Craver, C.F. (2010) "Prosthetic ModelsPhilosophy of Science. 77: 840-851.

    Kendler, K., Zachar, P., and Craver, C.F. (2010) "What kinds of things are psychiatric disorders?Psychological Medicine.  41: 1143-1150.

    Robins, S.K. and Craver, C.F. (2010) "No-Nonsense Neuro-LawNeuroethics (available online).

    Craver, C.F. (2009) "Mechanisms and Natural KindsPhilosophical Psychology. 22: 575 – 594.

    Darden, Lindley and Craver, C.F. (2009) "Reductionism in Biology" In Encyclopedia of the Life Sciences. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester

    C.F. Craver and Robins, S.K. (2009) "Biological Clocks: Explaining with Models of Mechanisms" Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Neuroscience. Oxford University Press: Oxford, USA, pp. 41-67.

    C.F. Craver (2009) "Neural Mechanisms" in J. Symons and P. Calvo, eds., Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Psychology. Routledge. N.J. Ch. 24.

    C.F. craver (2008) “Functions and Mechanisms in Neuroscience” in P. Poirier, L. Faucher, E. Racine and E. Ennan (eds). Des neurones à la conscience: Neurophilosophie et philosophie des neurosciences. Bruxelles: De Boeck Université.

    Craver, C.F. (2008) "Physical Law and Mechanistic Explanation in the Hodgkin and Huxley Model of the Action PotentialPhilosophy of Science. 75: 1022–1033.

    Craver, C.F. and Alexandrova, A. (2008) "No Revolution Necessary: Neural Mechanisms for EconomicsPhilosophy and Economics. 24 (3): 381-406.

    Craver, C.F. (2007) "Constitutive RelevanceJournal of Philosophical Research. 32: 1-30.

    C. F. Craver and William Bechtel (2007) "Top-down causation without top-down causesBiology and Philosophy. 22: 547-563.

    C. F. Craver (2007) "commentary on trout" and "Commentary on WolffePhilosophy of Science Archives.

    C.F. Craver (2007) "Julius Axelrod" in N. Koertge, ed. Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Gale/Cengage, p. 122.

    R.A. Wilson and C.F. Craver (2006) "Realization" in P. Thagard, ed., Elsevier Handbook of the Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science. Dordrecht: Elsevier. 81-104.

    C.F. craver (2006) "When Mechanistic Models ExplainSynthese. 153: 355-376.

    C.F. Craver (2006) Review of Eliot Valenstein’s The War of the Soups and the Sparks. Isis 97: 803-804.

    C.F. Craver and L. darden (2005) "IntroductionStudies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36:233-244.

    C.F. Craver (2005) "Beyond Reduction: Mechanisms, Multifield Integration, and the Unity of ScienceStudies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36:373-396.
    To be translated into French for inclusion in J. Gayon and Thomas Pradeu editors, Anthology in Philosophy of Biology. Les Editions Vrin, Paris.

    C.F. Craver and W. Bechtel (2005) "Mechanisms and Mechanistic Explanation" in S. Sarkar and J. Pfeiffer, eds. The Philosophy of Science: An Encyclopedia. Routledge Press, pp. 469-478.

    C.F. Craver (2005) "T.S. Kuhn" Encyclopedia Americana.

    C.F. Craver (2005) "I. Lakatos" Encyclopedia Americana.

    C.F. Craver (2004) "Dissociable Realization and Kind SplittingPhilosophy of Science 71:960-971.

    C.F. Craver (2003) "The Making of a Memory MechanismJournal of the History of Biology 36: 153-195.

    B. Towl, J.D. Halverson, and C.F. Craver (2003) "Clark Glymour’s Mind’s Arrows: An Elusive TargetPhilosophical Psychology 16: 157-164.

    C.F. Craver (2002) "Interlevel Experiments and Multilevel Mechanisms in the Neuroscience of MemoryPhilosophy of Science Supplemental 69: S83-S97.

    C.F. Craver (2002) "Self Reflection: Review of Gallagher and Shear’s Models of the SelfPhilosophical Psychology 15: 213-216.

    L. Darden, and C.F. Craver (2002) "Strategies in the Interfield Discovery of the Mechanism of Protein SynthesisStudies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 33: 1-28.

    C.F. Craver (2001) "Role Functions, Mechanisms and HierarchyPhilosophy of Science 68: 31-55.

    C.F. Craver, and L. Darden (2001) "Discovering Mechanisms in Neurobiology: The Case of Spatial Memory" in P.K. Machamer, R. Grush, and P. McLaughlin (eds.), Theory and Method in Neuroscience Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. 112-137.

    C.F. Craver (2001) "Searching for Common Ground" (Golledge ed., Wayfinding Behavior: Cognitive Mapping and Other Spatial Processes) in Psycholoquy.

    E.M. Stricker, C.F. Craver, K.S. Curtis, K.A. Peacock-Kinzig, A.F. Sved and J.C. Smith (2001) "Osmoregulation in Water-Deprived Rats Drinking Concentrated NaCl Solutions: Effect of Area Postrema LesionsAmerican Journal of Physiology 280: R831-R842.

    C.F. Craver (2001) "Structures of Scientific Theories" in P.K. Machamer and M. Silberstein, eds. Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Science Blackwell: Oxford, pp. 55-79.

    P.K. Machamer, L. Darden and C.F. Craver (2000) "Thinking about MechanismsPhilosophy of Science 67:1-25.

    C.F. Craver and S.L. Small (1997) "Subcortical Aphasia and the Problem of Attributing Functional Responsibility to Parts of Distributed Brain ProcessesBrain and Language 58: 427-35.

    In Search of Mechanisms: Discoveries Across the Life Sciences

    In Search of Mechanisms: Discoveries Across the Life Sciences

    Neuroscientists investigate the mechanisms of spatial memory. Molecular biologists study the mechanisms of protein synthesis and the myriad mechanisms of gene regulation. Ecologists study nutrient cycling mechanisms and their devastating imbalances in estuaries such as the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, much of biology and its history involves biologists constructing, evaluating, and revising their understanding of mechanisms.

    Explaining the Brain: Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience

    Explaining the Brain: Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience

    What distinguishes good explanations in neuroscience from bad? Carl F. Craver constructs and defends standards for evaluating neuroscientific explanations that are grounded in a systematic view of what neuroscientific explanations are: descriptions of multilevel mechanisms. In developing this approach, he draws on a wide range of examples in the history of neuroscience (e.g. Hodgkin and Huxley model of the action potential and LTP as a putative explanation for different kinds of memory), as well as recent philosophical work on the nature of scientific explanation. Readers in neuroscience, psychology, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of science will find much to provoke and stimulate them in this book.