Catherine Stinson 2017-10-10T13:27:44+00:00

Project Description


  • Philosophy of Neuroscience

  • Philosophy of Computation

  • Philosophy of Psychiatry




Postdoctoral Fellow;
Department of Philosophy, Western University

Catherine Stinson is a philosopher of science with interests in neuroscience, psychology, psychiatry, and computational science. Her main interest is how scientific explanations work: How can we be sure that experimental models behave the same way as the systems they stand in for? Are computational models more like experiments run on a digital model, or like a series of calculations? How can we relate the personal, cognitive, neural, and molecular level explanations of a complex psychiatric disorder? One project Catherine is working on at the Rotman Institute is coming up with an account of what sort of a thing an explanation is that can make sense of the diverse and overlapping explanations (at multiple levels, coming from various types of models) that we use to understand a given scientific phenomenon.


Stinson, C.  (Forthcoming in 2018) “Explanation and Connectionist Models.” In The Routledge Handbook of the Computational Mind. Eds. M. Colombo, M. Sprevak.  PDF draft

Stinson, C.  (2017) “The Absent Body in Psychiatric Diagnosis, Treatment, and Research.” Synthese. DOI: 10.1007/s11229-017-1507-8.   JOURNAL WEBSITEPDF

Stinson, C. &  J. Sullivan, (2017) “Mechanistic Explanation in Neuroscience.” In The Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy.  Eds. S. Glennan, P. Illari.  PDF

Stinson, C.  (2017) “Back to the Cradle: Mechanism Schemata from Piaget to DNA.” In Eppur si muove: Doing History and Philosophy of Science with Peter Machamer.  Eds. M. Adams, Z. Biener, U. Feest, J. Sullivan. Springer.   PDF

Stinson, C.  (2016) “Mechanisms in Psychology: Ripping Nature at its Seams.” Synthese. 195(5): 1585–1614.   JOURNAL WEBSITE / PDF

Piryankova, I.V., Wong, H.Y., Linkenauger, S., Stinson, C., Longo, M., Bülthoff, H.H., Mohler, B.J. (2014). “Owning an Overweight or Underweight Body: Distinguishing the Physical, Experienced and Virtual Body”. PLOS One 9(8): e103428. JOURNAL WEBSITE

Stinson, C. (2009). “Searching for The Source of Executive Attention”. PSYCHE 15(1): 137-154. JOURNAL WEBSITE

Doctoral Thesis

Cognitive Mechanisms and Computational Models: Explanation in Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh, Department of History & Philosophy of Science, 2013

MA Thesis

Adaptive Information Filtering with Labeled and Unlabeled Data, University of Toronto, Department of Computer Science, 2002

Invited Talks

“Computational Models as Generic Mechanisms”, Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, University of Munich, May 2014

“Are ‘Computational Experiments’ Experiments?”, Philosophy Department, York University, April 2014

“Is Explanation in Psychology Mechanistic?”, Explaining Mental Phenomena, University of Tübingen, July 2012

“Epistemology of Computational Modeling in the Social Sciences”, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Kiel, May 2012

“What Mechanisms Can Do (for You)”, Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, University of Tübingen, December 2011

“Searching for The Source of Executive Attention”, ‘Consciousness in a Natural and Cultural Context’ Essay Competition for Junior Scholars, Edinburgh, June 2008

Conference Presentations

“Abstract Mechanisms and Causal Powers”, (with Boris Hennig) Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Science, Toronto, Canada; May 2017.

“Mechanistic and Mathematical Explanation Unified”, Mechanistic Integration and Unification in Cognitive Science, Warsaw, Poland; June 2016.

“Grounding Inferences from Model Organisms”, First Principles in Science: Their Epistemic Status and Justification, Munich, Germany; June 2016.

“The Absent Body in Psychiatric Classification, Diagnosis, and Treatment”, Canadian Society for History & Philosophy of Science, Calgary, Canada; May 2016.

“Interoception, Eating Disorders, and the Rubber-Hand Illusion”, Body Perception: Clinical, Experimental, and Philosophical Approaches, Tübingen, November 2013.

“Computational Models as Experimental Systems”, Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice, Toronto, June 2013, and Max Planck Institute for History of Science Predoctoral Seminar, Berlin, December 2010.

“Abstract Models, Generic Mechanisms”, Models & Mechanisms, Tilburg, December 2012.

“Computational Models as Mechanistic Explanations”, Models and Simulations 5, Helsinki, June 2012, and Computability in Europe: Turing Centenary Conference, Cambridge, June 2012.

“The Role of Computational Models in Cognitive Neuroscience”, Epistemology of Modeling and Simulation, Pittsburgh, April 2011, and European Conference on Computing and Philosophy, Barcelona, July 2009 Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, Berlin, June 2009 (poster).

“Aristotle’s Argument against Functionalism”, International Society for History of Philosophy of Science, Budapest, June 2010 (with Boris Hennig).

“Attention, Volition, and the Ghost in the Machine”, European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, Geneva, July 2007.

Public Lectures

“The Body in Mental Illness”, Rotman Institute of Philosophy, Neuroscience and Society Lecture Series, London, Canada; October 2016.

University of Toronto, Cognitive Science Program

Cognitive Science in Practice, Spring 2018

Seminar in Cognitive Science: Moral Psychology, Spring 2017

Seminar in Cognitive Science: Delusions, Spring 2016

Ryerson University, Philosophy

Critical Thinking (2 sections)                                               Winter 2014

Critical Thinking 1                                                                     Winter 2014

University of Tübingen, Philosophy, and Max Planck Institute, Neuroscience Graduate School

Epistemology of Experiment (co-taught)                           Summer 2013

Mental Architectures (block seminar, co-taught)            Winter 2012

University of Pittsburgh, History & Philosophy of Science

Causal Reasoning                                                                      Spring 2009

Principles of Scientific Reasoning                                         Fall 2008

Mind and Medicine (TA for Edouard Machery)                 Spring 2007

The Nature of the Emotions (TA for Jim Lennox)             Fall 2006

University of Toronto, Computer Science (TA)

Web Programming                                                                     Fall 2001, Fall 2002

Computer Organization                                                            Fall 2000, Spring 2002

Discrete Math for Computer Science                                   Fall 1998, Fall 1999, Summer 2000

Introduction to Artificial Intelligence                                    Spring 1999, Spring 2000

Programming Languages                                                         Summer 1999

Introduction to Computer Science                                        Fall 1997