Prof. Dr. Lena Kästner



Kästner, L. (2017). Philosophy of Cognitive Neuroscience: Causal Explanations, Mechanisms, and Experimental Manipulations. Berlin: Ontos/DeGruyter. (amazon)

How do cognitive neuroscientists explain phenomena like memory or language processing? This book examines the different kinds of experiments and manipulative research strategies involved in understanding and eventually explaining such phenomena. Against this background, it evaluates contemporary accounts of scientific explanation, specifically the mechanistic and interventionist accounts, and finds them to be crucially incomplete. Besides, mechanisms and interventions cannot actually be combined in the way usually done in the literature. This book offers solutions to both these problems based on insights from experimental practice. It defends a new reading of the interventionist account, highlights the importance of non-interventionist studies for scientific inquiry, and supplies a taxonomy of experiments that makes it easy to see how the gaps in contemporary accounts of scientific explanation can be filled. The book concludes that a truly empirically adequate philosophy of science must take into account a much wider range of experimental research than has been done to date. With the taxonomy provided, this book serves a stepping-stone leading into a new era of philosophy of science—for cognitive neuroscience and beyond.

peer-reviewed journal articles

Kästner, L. & Crook, B (under revision). Explaining AI Through Mechanistic Interpretability. EJPS . (PhilSci Archive)

Kästner, L. (2023). Modeling Psychopathology: 4D Multiplexes to the Rescue. Synthese, 201. (link)

Haueis, P. & Kästner, L. (2022). Mechanistic Inquiry and Scientific Pursuit: The Case of Visual Processing. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 93, 123-135.

Abdin, A.Y., Jacob, C. & Kästner, L. (2021). The Enigmatic Metallothioneins: A Case of Upward-Looking Research. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. (link)

Langer, M., Oster, D., Speith, T., Hermanns, H., Kästner, L., Schmidt, E. & Baum, K. (2021). XAI – What is it good for? Introducing an organizing framework for interdisciplinary research on explainable artificial intelligence. Artificial Intelligence: Special Issue on Explainable Artificial Intelligence. doi: 10.1016/j.artint.2021.103473. (arXiv)

Abdin, A.Y., Jacob, C. & Kästner, L. (2020). Disambiguating “Mechanisms” in Pharmacy: Lessons from Mechanist Philosophy of Science. Environmental Research and Public Health, 17, 1833. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17061833.

Rudner, M., Orfanidou, E., Kästner, L., Cardin, V., Capek, C.M., Woll, B. & Rönnberg, J. (2019). Neural Networks Supporting Phoneme Monitoring Are Modulated by Phonology but Not Lexicality or Iconicity: Evidence From British and Swedish Sign Language. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00374.

Kästner, L. & Haueis, P. (2019). Discovering Patterns: On the Norms of Mechanistic Inquiry. Erkenntnis. doi: 10.1007/s10670-019-00174-7.

Kästner, L. & Andersen, L. (2018). Intervening into Mechanisms: Prospects and Challenges. Philosophy Compass. doi: 10.1111/phc3.12546.

Kästner, L. (2018). Integrating mechanistic explanations through epistemic perspectives. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, 68, 68-79. (link)

Kästner, L. & Newen, A. (2017). Good Things Come in Threes: Communicative Acts Comprise Linguistic, Imagistic, and Modifying Components. Commentary on: S. Goldin-Meadow & D. Brentari, Gesture, sign and language: The coming of age of sign language and gesture studies, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40, 1-59. (link)

Cardin, V. Orfanidou, E., Kästner, L., Rönnberg, J., Woll, B. Capek, C., Rudner M. (2016). Monitoring different phonological parameters of sign language engages the same cortical language network but distinctive perceptual ones. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 28, 20-40. (link)

De Bruin, L.C. & Kästner, L. (2012). Dynamic Embodied Cognition. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 11, 541-563. (link)

Walter, S. & Kästner, L. (2012). The where and what of cognition: the untenability of cognitive agnosticism and the limits of the Motley Crew Argument. Cognitive Systems Research, 13, 12-23. (link)

peer-reviewed proceedings and collections

Crook, B., & Kästner, L. (forthcoming). Don’t Fear the Bogeyman: On Why There is No Prediction-Understanding Trade-Off for Deep Learning in Neuroscience. In: J. Duran & G. Pozzi (eds.), Philosophy of Science for Machine Learning: Core Issues and New Perspectives. Synthese Library. (PhilSciArchive)

Mann, S., Crook, B., Kästner, L., & Schomäcker, A. (2023). Sources of Opacity in Computer Systems: Towards a Comprehensive Taxonomy. 31st IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE’23).

Kästner, L. & Schomäcker, A. (2023). KI-Systeme in der modernen Gesellschaft: Potenziale und Grenzen [AI-Systems in modern Society: Potentials and Pitfalls]. ZUM 8/9/2023, 558-566.

Kästner, L. (forthcoming). Empirische Erforschung kognitiver Fähigkeiten [Empirical Research on Cognitive Phenomena]. In: V. Hoffmann-Kolls (ed.), Handbuch Philosophie des Geistes. Stuttgart: Metzler.

Sesing-Wagenpfeil, A., Biniok, M., Kares, F., Kästner, L., Langer, M., Metz, C., Peshteryanu, T. & Wessels, U. (2023). Legal Tech im Richterzimmer? Streiflichter aus Wissenschaft und Praxis zum KI-Einsatz bei Flugverspätungen. In: E. Schweighofer, J. Zanol & S. Eder (eds.), Rechtsinformatik als Methodenwissenschaft des Rechts, Tagungsband des 26. Internationalen Rechtsinformatik Symposions IRIS 2023, weblaw, pp. 145–158.

Kästner, L., Langer, M., Lazar, V., Schomäcker, A., Speith, T. & Sterz, S. (2021). On the Relation of Trust and Explainability: Why to Engineer for Trustworthiness. 29th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE’21). (arXiv)

Kästner, L. (2021). Connecting the Mechanistic Triad: On Producing, Underlying and Maintaining Mechanistic Explanations. In: F. Calzavarini & M. Viola (eds.), Neural Mechanisms — New Challenges in the Philosophy of Neuroscience. Springer, chapter 15.

Kästner, L. (2018). Identifying Causes in Psychiatry. PhilSci Archive. 

Kästner, L. (2015). Learning About Constitutive Relations. In: U. Mäki, S. Ruphy, G Schurz & I. Votsis (eds.), Recent Developments in the Philosophy of Science: EPSA13 Helsinki, pp. 155-167. Springer.

Kästner, L. & Walter, S. (2013). Historical perspectives on the what and the where of cognition. In: C. Pléh, L. Gurova & L. Ropoloyi (eds.) New Perspectives on the History of Cognitive Science. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.

Walter, S. & Kästner, L. (2010). Drift [Drift]. In: P. Sarasin, M. Sommer & T.P. Weber (eds.), Handbuch Evolution. Stuttgart: Metzler.

Kästner, L. & Walter, S. (2009). What is Cognition? – Functionalism and Extended Cognition. In: V. A. Munz, K. Puhl & J. Wang (eds.), Language and World. Preproceedings of the 32nd International Wittgenstein Symposium. Kirchberg am Wechsel/Lower Austria: Ontos.


Kästner, L. (2019). Review of “The New Mechanical Philosophy” by S. Glennan. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science.

Kästner, L. (2016). Review of “Epistemic Cognition and Development: The Psychology of Justification and Truth” by D. Moshman. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 29, 444-447.


Kästner, L. & Walter, H. (2022). Models, Networks, and Multiple Factors in the Philosophy of Psychiatry. Special Issue in Philosophy and the Mind Sciences. (Call for Papers)

Newen, A., Kästner, L. & Pompe, U. (2011). Carnap Lectures 2011 and Animal Cognition Workshop in Bochum. Philosophia Special Issue.