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  1. Philosophy of Developmental Biology.Marcel Weber - 2022 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    The history of developmental biology is interwoven with debates as to whether mechanistic explanations of development are possible or whether alternative explanatory principles or even vital forces need to be assumed. In particular, the demonstrated ability of embryonic cells to tune their developmental fate precisely to their relative position and the overall size of the embryo was once thought to be inexplicable in mechanistic terms. Taking a causal perspective, this Element examines to what extent and how developmental biology, having turned (...)
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  • Etiological Explanations: Illness Causation Theory.Olaf Dammann - 2020 - Boca Raton, FL, USA: CRC Press.
    Theory of illness causation is an important issue in all biomedical sciences, and solid etiological explanations are needed in order to develop therapeutic approaches in medicine and preventive interventions in public health. Until now, the literature about the theoretical underpinnings of illness causation research has been scarce and fragmented, and lacking a convenient summary. This interdisciplinary book provides a convenient and accessible distillation of the current status of research into this developing field, and adds a personal flavor to the discussion (...)
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  • The New Mechanical Philosophy.Stuart Glennan - 2017 - Oxford University Press.
    This volume argues for a new image of science that understands both natural and social phenomena to be the product of mechanisms, casting the work of science as an effort to understand those mechanisms. Glennan offers an account of the nature of mechanisms and of the models used to represent them in physical, life, and social sciences.
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  • Isolability as the Unifying Feature of Modularity.Lucas J. Matthews - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (2):20.
    Although the concept of modularity is pervasive across fields and disciplines, philosophers and scientists use the term in a variety of different ways. This paper identifies two distinct ways of thinking about modularity, and considers what makes them similar and different. For philosophers of mind and cognitive science, cognitive modularity helps explain the capacities of brains to process sundry and distinct kinds of informational input. For philosophy of biology and evolutionary science, biological modularity helps explain the capacity of random evolutionary (...)
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  • A Regularist Approach to Mechanistic Type-Level Explanation.Beate Krickel - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1123-1153.
    Most defenders of the new mechanistic approach accept ontic constraints for successful scientific explanation (Illari 2013; Craver 2014). The minimal claim is that scientific explanations have objective truthmakers, namely mechanisms that exist in the physical world independently of any observer and that cause or constitute the phenomena-to- be-explained. How can this idea be applied to type-level explanations? Many authors at least implicitly assume that in order for mechanisms to be the truthmakers of type-level explanation they need to be regular (Andersen (...)
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  • Eugène Bouchut’s (1818–1891) Early Anticipation of the Concept of Brain Death.Toni Saad - 2022 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 47 (3):407-423.
    The conventional historical account of the concept of brain death credits developments and discoveries of the twentieth century with its inception, emphasizing the role of technological developments and professional conferences, notably the 1968 Ad Hoc Committee of the Harvard Medical School to Examine the Definition of Brain Death. This essay argues that the French physician Eugène Bouchut anticipated the concept of brain death as early as 1846. Correspondence with Bouchut’s understanding of brain death and one important contemporary concept of brain (...)
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  • Explanation in Biology: An Enquiry Into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences.P.-A. Braillard and C. Malaterre (ed.) - 2015 - Springer.
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  • Causal Reasoning and Clinical Practice: Challenges From Molecular Biology.Giovanni Boniolo & Raffaella Campaner - 2019 - Topoi 38 (2):423-435.
    Not only has the philosophical debate on causation been gaining ground in the last few decades, but it has also increasingly addressed the sciences. The biomedical sciences are among the most prominent fields that have been considered, with a number of works tackling the understanding of the notion of cause, the assessment of genuinely causal relations and the use of causal knowledge in applied contexts. Far from denying the merits of the debate on causation and the major theories it comprises, (...)
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  • Genidentity and Biological Processes.Thomas Pradeu - 2018 - In Daniel J. Nicholson & John Dupre (eds.), Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology. Oxford University Press.
    A crucial question for a process view of life is how to identify a process and how to follow it through time. The genidentity view can contribute decisively to this project. It says that the identity through time of an entity X is given by a well-identified series of continuous states of affairs. Genidentity helps address the problem of diachronic identity in the living world. This chapter describes the centrality of the concept of genidentity for David Hull and proposes an (...)
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  • Mechanisms of macromolecular reactions.Ross L. Stein - 2022 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 44 (2):1-28.
    During the past two decades, philosophers of biology have increasingly turned their attention to mechanisms of biological phenomena. Through analyses of mechanistic proposals advanced by biologists, the goal of these philosophers is to understand what a mechanism is and how mechanisms explain. These analyses have generally focused on mechanistic proposals for phenomenon that occur at the cellular or sub-cellular level, such as synapse firing, protein synthesis, or metabolic pathway operation. Little is said about the mechanisms of the macromolecular reactions that (...)
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  • Evo-Devo: A Science of Dispositions.Christopher J. Austin - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7 (2):373-389.
    Evolutionary developmental biology represents a paradigm shift in the understanding of the ontogenesis and evolutionary progression of the denizens of the natural world. Given the empirical successes of the evo-devo framework, and its now widespread acceptance, a timely and important task for the philosophy of biology is to critically discern the ontological commitments of that framework and assess whether and to what extent our current metaphysical models are able to accommodate them. In this paper, I argue that one particular model (...)
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  • Levels of Organization in Biology.Markus Eronen & Daniel Stephen Brooks - unknown - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Levels of organization are structures in nature, usually defined by part-whole relationships, with things at higher levels being composed of things at the next lower level. Typical levels of organization that one finds in the literature include the atomic, molecular, cellular, tissue, organ, organismal, group, population, community, ecosystem, landscape, and biosphere levels. References to levels of organization and related hierarchical depictions of nature are prominent in the life sciences and their philosophical study, and appear not only in introductory textbooks and (...)
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  • The Ontology of Organisms: Mechanistic Modules or Patterned Processes?Christopher J. Austin - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (5):639-662.
    Though the realm of biology has long been under the philosophical rule of the mechanistic magisterium, recent years have seen a surprisingly steady rise in the usurping prowess of process ontology. According to its proponents, theoretical advances in the contemporary science of evo-devo have afforded that ontology a particularly powerful claim to the throne: in that increasingly empirically confirmed discipline, emergently autonomous, higher-order entities are the reigning explanantia. If we are to accept the election of evo-devo as our best conceptualisation (...)
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  • What are ecological mechanisms? Suggestions for a fine-grained description of causal mechanisms in invasion ecology.Tina Heger - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (2):1-14.
    Invasion ecology addresses the spread of species outside of their native ranges. A central aim of this field is to find mechanistic explanations for why species are able to establish and spread in an area in which they did not evolve. Usually it remains unclear, however, what exactly is meant by ‘mechanistic explanation’ or ‘mechanism’. The paper argues that the field can benefit from the philosophical discussion of what a mechanism is. Based on conceptions of mechanisms as processes in concrete (...)
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  • A Biologically Informed Hylomorphism.Christopher J. Austin - 2017 - In William M. R. Simpson, Robert C. Koons & Nicholas J. Teh (eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science. Routledge. pp. 185-210.
    Although contemporary metaphysics has recently undergone a neo-Aristotelian revival wherein dispositions, or capacities are now commonplace in empirically grounded ontologies, being routinely utilised in theories of causality and modality, a central Aristotelian concept has yet to be given serious attention – the doctrine of hylomorphism. The reason for this is clear: while the Aristotelian ontological distinction between actuality and potentiality has proven to be a fruitful conceptual framework with which to model the operation of the natural world, the distinction between (...)
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  • Relating Traditional and Academic Ecological Knowledge: Mechanistic and Holistic Epistemologies Across Cultures.David Ludwig & Luana Poliseli - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (5-6):43.
    Current debates about the integration of traditional and academic ecological knowledge struggle with a dilemma of division and assimilation. On the one hand, the emphasis on differences between traditional and academic perspectives has been criticized as creating an artificial divide that brands TEK as “non-scientific” and contributes to its marginalization. On the other hand, there has been increased concern about inadequate assimilation of Indigenous and other traditional perspectives into scientific practices that disregards the holistic nature and values of TEK. The (...)
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  • Revisiting abstraction and idealization: how not to criticize mechanistic explanation in molecular biology.Martin Zach - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (1):1-20.
    Abstraction and idealization are the two notions that are most often discussed in the context of assumptions employed in the process of model building. These notions are also routinely used in philosophical debates such as that on the mechanistic account of explanation. Indeed, an objection to the mechanistic account has recently been formulated precisely on these grounds: mechanists cannot account for the common practice of idealizing difference-making factors in models in molecular biology. In this paper I revisit the debate and (...)
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  • Mechanism, Autonomy and Biological Explanation.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (6):1-27.
    The new mechanists and the autonomy approach both aim to account for how biological phenomena are explained. One identifies appeals to how components of a mechanism are organized so that their activities produce a phenomenon. The other directs attention towards the whole organism and focuses on how it achieves self-maintenance. This paper discusses challenges each confronts and how each could benefit from collaboration with the other: the new mechanistic framework can gain by taking into account what happens outside individual mechanisms, (...)
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  • Causality, Teleology, and Thought Experiments in Biology.Marco Buzzoni - 2015 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 46 (2):279-299.
    Thought experiments de facto play many different roles in biology: economical, ethical, technical and so forth. This paper, however, is interested in whether there are any distinctive features of biological TEs as such. The question may be settled in the affirmative because TEs in biology have a function that is intimately connected with the epistemological and methodological status of biology. Peculiar to TEs in biology is the fact that the reflexive, typically human concept of finality may be profitably employed to (...)
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  • Engineering and Biology: Counsel for a Continued Relationship.Brett Calcott, Arnon Levy, Mark L. Siegal, Orkun S. Soyer & Andreas Wagner - 2015 - Biological Theory 10 (1):50-59.
    Biologists frequently draw on ideas and terminology from engineering. Evolutionary systems biology—with its circuits, switches, and signal processing—is no exception. In parallel with the frequent links drawn between biology and engineering, there is ongoing criticism against this cross-fertilization, using the argument that over-simplistic metaphors from engineering are likely to mislead us as engineering is fundamentally different from biology. In this article, we clarify and reconfigure the link between biology and engineering, presenting it in a more favorable light. We do so (...)
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  • Examining Tensions in the Past and Present Uses of Concepts (Preprint).Eden T. Smith - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 84:84-94.
    Examining tensions between the past and present uses of scientific concepts can help clarify their contributions as tools in experimental practices. This point can be illustrated by considering the concepts of mental imagery and hallucinations: despite debates over their respective referential reliabilities remaining unresolved within their interdependent histories, both are used as independently stable concepts in neuroimaging experiments. Building on an account of how these concepts function as tools structured for pursuit of diverging goals in experiments, this paper explores this (...)
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  • The Return of the Organism as a Fundamental Explanatory Concept in Biology.Daniel J. Nicholson - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (5):347-359.
    Although it may seem like a truism to assert that biology is the science that studies organisms, during the second half of the twentieth century the organism category disappeared from biological theory. Over the past decade, however, biology has begun to witness the return of the organism as a fundamental explanatory concept. There are three major causes: (a) the realization that the Modern Synthesis does not provide a fully satisfactory understanding of evolution; (b) the growing awareness of the limits of (...)
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  • Organization Needs Organization: Understanding Integrated Control in Living Organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 93:96-106.
    Organization figures centrally in the understanding of biological systems advanced by both new mechanists and proponents of the autonomy framework. The new mechanists focus on how components of mechanisms are organized to produce a phenomenon and emphasize productive continuity between these components. The autonomy framework focuses on how the components of a biological system are organized in such a way that they contribute to the maintenance of the organisms that produce them. In this paper we analyze and compare these two (...)
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  • Three Kinds of New Mechanism.Arnon Levy - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):99-114.
    I distinguish three theses associated with the new mechanistic philosophy – concerning causation, explanation and scientific methodology. Advocates of each thesis are identified and relationships among them are outlined. I then look at some recent work on natural selection and mechanisms. There, attention to different kinds of New Mechanism significantly affects of what is at stake.
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  • The Trouble with Natural Genetic Engineering: James A. Shapiro: Evolution: A View From the 21st Century. FT Press Science, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2011, 272 Pp., $27.99 Hbk, $27.99 Ebook, ISBN 978-0-13-278093-3.Davide Vecchi - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (1):80-88.
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  • Rethinking Woodger’s Legacy in the Philosophy of Biology.Daniel J. Nicholson & Richard Gawne - 2014 - Journal of the History of Biology 47 (2):243-292.
    The writings of Joseph Henry Woodger (1894–1981) are often taken to exemplify everything that was wrongheaded, misguided, and just plain wrong with early twentieth-century philosophy of biology. Over the years, commentators have said of Woodger: (a) that he was a fervent logical empiricist who tried to impose the explanatory gold standards of physics onto biology, (b) that his philosophical work was completely disconnected from biological science, (c) that he possessed no scientific or philosophical credentials, and (d) that his work was (...)
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  • Strategies of Explanatory Abstraction in Molecular Systems Biology.Nicholaos Jones - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (5):955-968.
    I consider three explanatory strategies from recent systems biology that are driven by mathematics as much as mechanistic detail. Analysis of differential equations drives the first strategy; topological analysis of network motifs drives the second; mathematical theorems from control engineering drive the third. I also distinguish three abstraction types: aggregations, which simplify by condensing information; generalizations, which simplify by generalizing information; and structurations, which simplify by contextualizing information. Using a common explanandum as reference point—namely, the robust perfect adaptation of chemotaxis (...)
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  • Mechanistic Explanation of Biological Processes.Derek John Skillings - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1139-1151.
    Biological processes are often explained by identifying the underlying mechanisms that generate a phenomenon of interest. I characterize a basic account of mechanistic explanation and then present three challenges to this account, illustrated with examples from molecular biology. The basic mechanistic account is insufficient for explaining nonsequential and nonlinear dynamic processes, is insufficient for explaining the inherently stochastic nature of many biological mechanisms, and fails to give a proper framework for analyzing organization. I suggest that biological processes are best approached (...)
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  • Causally Powerful Processes.John Dupré - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):10667-10683.
    Processes produce changes: rivers erode their banks and thunderstorms cause floods. If I am right that organisms are a kind of process, then the causally efficacious behaviours of organisms are also examples of processes producing change. In this paper I shall try to articulate a view of how we should think of causation within a broadly processual ontology of the living world. Specifically, I shall argue that causation, at least in a central class of cases, is the interaction of processes, (...)
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  • Living Machines: Metaphors We Live By.Nora S. Vaage - 2020 - NanoEthics 14 (1):57-70.
    Within biology and in society, living creatures have long been described using metaphors of machinery and computation: ‘bioengineering’, ‘genes as code’ or ‘biological chassis’. This paper builds on Lakoff and Johnson’s argument that such language mechanisms shape how we understand the world. I argue that the living machines metaphor builds upon a certain perception of life entailing an idea of radical human control of the living world, looking back at the historical preconditions for this metaphor. I discuss how design is (...)
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  • New Mechanistic Philosophy and the Scientific Prospects of Code Biology.Majid Davoody Beni - 2019 - Biosemiotics 12 (2):197-211.
    Marcello Barbieri has presented code biology as an alternative to the Peircean approach to biosemiotics. Some critics questioned the viability of code biology on grounds that Barbieri’s conception of science is limited. It has been argued that code biology’s mechanistic tendency is the cause of the allegedly limited conception of science. In this paper, I evaluate the scientific viability of the code model from the perspective of scientific realism in the philosophy of science. To be more precise, I draw on (...)
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  • A Critique of Barbieri’s Code Biology Through Rosen’s Relational Biology: Reconciling Barbieri’s Biosemiotics with Peircean Biosemiotics.Federico Vega - 2018 - Biological Theory 13 (4):261-279.
    Biosemiotics argues that “sign” and “meaning” are two essential concepts for the explanation of life. Peircean biosemiotics, founded by Tomas Sebeok from Peirce’s semiotics and Jacob von Uexkül’s studies on animal communication, today makes up the mainstream of this discipline. Marcello Barbieri has developed an alternative account of meaning in biology based on the concept of code. Barbieri rejects Peircean biosemiotics on the grounds that this discipline opens the door to nonscientific approaches to biology through its use of the concept (...)
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  • Conceptual Challenges in the Theoretical Foundations of Systems Biology.Marta Bertolaso & Emanuele Ratti - 2018 - In Mariano Bizzarri (ed.), Systems Biology. New York: Springer, Humana Press. pp. 1-13.
    In the last decade, Systems Biology has emerged as a conceptual and explanatory alternative to reductionist-based approaches in molecular biology. However, the foundations of this new discipline need to be fleshed out more carefully. In this paper, we claim that a relational ontology is a necessary tool to ground both the conceptual and explanatory aspects of Systems Biology. A relational ontology holds that relations are prior—both conceptually and explanatory—to entities, and that in the biological realm entities are defined primarily by (...)
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  • Mechanistic and Topological Explanations in Medicine: The Case of Medical Genetics and Network Medicine.Marie Darrason - 2018 - Synthese 195 (1):147-173.
    Medical explanations have often been thought on the model of biological ones and are frequently defined as mechanistic explanations of a biological dysfunction. In this paper, I argue that topological explanations, which have been described in ecology or in cognitive sciences, can also be found in medicine and I discuss the relationships between mechanistic and topological explanations in medicine, through the example of network medicine and medical genetics. Network medicine is a recent discipline that relies on the analysis of various (...)
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  • Pluralists About Pluralism? Versions of Explanatory Pluralism in Psychiatry.Jeroen Van Bouwel - 2014 - In M. C. Galavotti, D. Dieks, W. J. Gonzalez, S. Hartmann, Th Uebel & M. Weber (eds.), New Directions in Philosophy of Science (The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective Series). Springer. pp. 105-119.
    In this contribution, I comment on Raffaella Campaner’s defense of explanatory pluralism in psychiatry (in this volume). In her paper, Campaner focuses primarily on explanatory pluralism in contrast to explanatory reductionism. Furthermore, she distinguishes between pluralists who consider pluralism to be a temporary state on the one hand and pluralists who consider it to be a persisting state on the other hand. I suggest that it would be helpful to distinguish more than those two versions of pluralism – different understandings (...)
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  • Putting History Back Into Mechanisms.Justin Garson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Mechanisms, in the prominent biological sense of the term, are historical entities. That is, whether or not something is a mechanism for something depends on its history. Put differently, while your spontaneously-generated molecule-for-molecule double has a heart, and its heart pumps blood around its body, its heart does not have a mechanism for pumping, since it does not have the right history. My argument for this claim is that mechanisms have proper functions; proper functions are historical entities; so, mechanisms are (...)
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  • Current Perspectives in Philosophy of Biology.Joaquin Suarez Ruiz & Rodrigo A. Lopez Orellana - 2019 - Humanities Journal of Valparaiso 14:7-426.
    Current Perspectives in Philosophy of Biology.
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  • A Manifesto for a Processual Philosophy of Biology.John A. Dupre & Daniel J. Nicholson - 2018 - In Daniel J. Nicholson & John A. Dupre (eds.), Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology.
    This chapter argues that scientific and philosophical progress in our understanding of the living world requires that we abandon a metaphysics of things in favour of one centred on processes. We identify three main empirical motivations for adopting a process ontology in biology: metabolic turnover, life cycles, and ecological interdependence. We show how taking a processual stance in the philosophy of biology enables us to ground existing critiques of essentialism, reductionism, and mechanicism, all of which have traditionally been associated with (...)
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  • Causal Inquiry in the Social Sciences: The Promise of Process Tracing.Rosa Runhardt - 2015 - Dissertation, London School of Economics
    In this thesis I investigate causal inquiry in the social sciences, drawing on examples from various disciplines and in particular from conflict studies. In a backlash against the pervasiveness of statistical methods, in the last decade certain social scientists have focused on finding the causal mechanisms behind observed correlations. To provide evidence for such mechanisms, researchers increasingly rely on ‘process tracing’, a method which attempts to give evidence for causal relations by specifying the chain of events connecting a putative cause (...)
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  • Evidence, Illness, and Causation: An Epidemiological Perspective on the Russo–Williamson Thesis.Alexander R. Fiorentino & Olaf Dammann - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 54:1-9.
    According to the Russo-Williamson Thesis, causal claims in the health sciences need to be supported by both difference-making and mechanistic evidence. In this article, we attempt to determine whether Evidence-based Medicine can be improved through the consideration of mechanistic evidence. We discuss the practical composition and function of each RWT evidence type and propose that exposure-outcome evidence provides associations that can be explained through a hypothesis of causation, while mechanistic evidence provides finer-grained associations and knowledge of entities that ultimately explains (...)
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  • Symmetry-Breaking Dynamics in Development.Noah Moss Brender - 2017 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (4):585-596.
    Recognition of the plasticity of development — from gene expression to neuroplasticity — is increasingly undermining the traditional distinction between structure and function, or anatomy and behavior. At the same time, dynamic systems theory — a set of tools and concepts drawn from the physical sciences — has emerged as a way of describing what Maurice Merleau-Ponty calls the “dynamic anatomy” of the living organism. This article surveys and synthesizes dynamic systems models of development from biology, neuroscience, and psychology in (...)
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  • La vaguedad de la vida: la Terceridad de Peirce en los sistemas biológicos.José Agustín Mercado Reyes - 2014 - Metatheoria – Revista de Filosofía E Historia de la Ciencia 5:65--78.
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  • In the beginning was the hand: Ernst Kapp and the relation between machine and organism.Maurizio Esposito - 2019 - Humanities Journal of Valparaiso 14:117-138.
    The relation between organisms and machines is very old. Over a century ago, the French historian and philosopher Alfred Victor Espinas observed that from the Greeks onwards the intelligibility of the organic world presupposed a comparison with technical objects. Aristotle, for instance, associated living organs with mechanical artefacts in order to understand animals ‘movements. In the modern period, Descartes, Borelli and other mechanists defended the idea that organisms are, in reality, machines. Today, philosophers and scientists still argue that the genome (...)
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  • Constitutive Relevance & Mutual Manipulability Revisited.Carl F. Craver, Stuart Glennan & Mark Povich - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):8807-8828.
    An adequate understanding of the ubiquitous practice of mechanistic explanation requires an account of what Craver termed “constitutive relevance.” Entities or activities are constitutively relevant to a phenomenon when they are parts of the mechanism responsible for that phenomenon. Craver’s mutual manipulability account extended Woodward’s account of manipulationist counterfactuals to analyze how interlevel experiments establish constitutive relevance. Critics of MM argue that applying Woodward’s account to this philosophical problem conflates causation and constitution, thus rendering the account incoherent. These criticisms, we (...)
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  • Is Synthetic Biology Mechanical Biology?Sune Holm - 2015 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 37 (4):413-429.
    A widespread and influential characterization of synthetic biology emphasizes that synthetic biology is the application of engineering principles to living systems. Furthermore, there is a strong tendency to express the engineering approach to organisms in terms of what seems to be an ontological claim: organisms are machines. In the paper I investigate the ontological and heuristic significance of the machine analogy in synthetic biology. I argue that the use of the machine analogy and the aim of producing rationally designed organisms (...)
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  • Code Biology, Peircean Biosemiotics, and Rosen’s Relational Biology.Marcello Barbieri - 2019 - Biological Theory 14 (1):21-29.
    The classical theories of the genetic code claimed that its coding rules were determined by chemistry—either by stereochemical affinities or by metabolic reactions—but the experimental evidence has revealed a totally different reality: it has shown that any codon can be associated with any amino acid, thus proving that there is no necessary link between them. The rules of the genetic code, in other words, obey the laws of physics and chemistry but are not determined by them. They are arbitrary, or (...)
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  • Recent Work in The Philosophy of Biology.Christopher J. Austin - 2017 - Analysis 77 (2):anx032.
    The biological sciences have always proven a fertile ground for philosophical analysis, one from which has grown a rich tradition stemming from Aristotle and flowering with Darwin. And although contemporary philosophy is increasingly becoming conceptually entwined with the study of the empirical sciences with the data of the latter now being regularly utilised in the establishment and defence of the frameworks of the former, a practice especially prominent in the philosophy of physics, the development of that tradition hasn’t received the (...)
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  • Mechanisms, Models and Laws in Understanding Supernovae.Phyllis Illari - 2019 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 50 (1):63-84.
    There has been a burst of work in the last couple of decades on mechanistic explanation, as an alternative to the traditional covering-law model of scientific explanation. That work makes some interesting claims about mechanistic explanations rendering phenomena ‘intelligible’, but does not develop this idea in great depth. There has also been a growth of interest in giving an account of scientific understanding, as a complement to an account of explanation, specifically addressing a three-place relationship between explanation, world, and the (...)
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  • Brigitte Falkenburg and Gregor Schiemann (Eds.): Mechanistic Explanations in Physics and Beyond.Veli-Pekka Parkkinen - 2020 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 51 (4):631-635.
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  • Structural and Organisational Conditions for Being a Machine.Guglielmo Militello & Álvaro Moreno - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (5-6):35.
    Although the analogy between macroscopic machines and biological molecular devices plays an important role in the conceptual framework of both neo-mechanistic accounts and nanotechnology, it has recently been claimed that certain complex molecular devices cannot be considered machines since they are subject to physicochemical forces that are different from those of macroscopic machines. However, the structural and physicochemical conditions that allow both macroscopic machines and microscopic devices to work and perform new functions, through a combination of elemental functional parts, have (...)
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