Carl Craver, "Can GWAS deliver coherent explanations?”

First workshop of the series "Chats on Philosophy and the Life Sciences", organized by Antonella Tramacere (University of Bologna) and John Bickle (Mississipi State University).

  • Date: 11 FEBRUARY 2021  from 18:00 to 20:00

  • Type: Chats on Philosophy and the Life Sciences

The introduction of large-sampled GWAS studies to psychiatry has been greeted with both optimism and pessimism in different quarters. The optimism is grounded in the promise of GWAS to move beyond twin and family studies to identify genes across the genome that are statistically associated with a given disorder, even if their individual effect sizes are small. This promise has in some instances met with the criticism that the GWAS studies to date have failed to deliver genomic findings that can, taken together, account for the heritability of these traits. In particular, critics argue that the SNPs identified for psychiatric phenotypes fail thus far to identify or suggest any meaningful or coherent explanation of the trait in question. The goal of my paper is first to understand the coherence problem by breaking it into some distinct sub-problems: causal complexity, causal distance, and heterogeneity. Having done so, I consider some analytic tools from network analysis that are being developed as a possible solution to this problem, discussing their limitations and suggesting novel approaches going forward.

Event is free and open to interested philosophers and scientists! Contact John ( or Antonella ( for login instructions.


Antonella Tramacere

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John Bickle

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