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  1. New Mechanistic Explanation and the Need for Explanatory Constraints.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - In Ken Aizawa & Carl Gillett (eds.), Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground. Palgrave. pp. 41-74.
    This paper critiques the new mechanistic explanatory program on grounds that, even when applied to the kinds of examples that it was originally designed to treat, it does not distinguish correct explanations from those that blunder. First, I offer a systematization of the explanatory account, one according to which explanations are mechanistic models that satisfy three desiderata: they must 1) represent causal relations, 2) describe the proper parts, and 3) depict the system at the right ‘level.’ Second, I argue that (...)
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  • Constitutive Relevance and Mutual Manipulability Revisited.Carl F. Craver, Stuart Glennan & Mark Povich - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    An adequate understanding of the ubiquitous practice of mechanistic explanation requires an account of what Craver (2007) 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 (MM) account extended Woodward’s account of manipulationist counterfactuals to analyze how interlevel experiments establish constitutive relevance. Critics of MM (e.g., Baumgartner and Gebharter 2016 and Baumgartner and Casini 2017) argue that applying Woodward’s account to this philosophical problem (...)
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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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  • Etiological Explanations.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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  • A Prototypical Conceptualization of Mechanisms.Bryon Cunningham - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 85:79-91.
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  • Explaining the Behaviour of Random Ecological Networks: The Stability of the Microbiome as a Case of Integrative Pluralism.Roger Deulofeu, Javier Suárez & Alberto Pérez-Cervera - 2019 - Synthese 198 (3):2003-2025.
    Explaining the behaviour of ecosystems is one of the key challenges for the biological sciences. Since 2000, new-mechanicism has been the main model to account for the nature of scientific explanation in biology. The universality of the new-mechanist view in biology has been however put into question due to the existence of explanations that account for some biological phenomena in terms of their mathematical properties (mathematical explanations). Supporters of mathematical explanation have argued that the explanation of the behaviour of ecosystems (...)
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Character Identity Mechanisms: A Conceptual Model for Comparative-Mechanistic Biology.James DiFrisco, Alan C. Love & Günter P. Wagner - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-32.
    There have been repeated attempts in the history of comparative biology to provide a mechanistic account of morphological homology. However, it is well-established that homologues can develop from diverse sets of developmental causes, appearing not to share any core causal architecture that underwrites character identity. We address this challenge with a new conceptual model of Character Identity Mechanisms. ChIMs are cohesive mechanisms with a recognizable causal profile that allows them to be traced through evolution as homologues despite having a diverse (...)
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Brigitte Falkenburg and Gregor Schiemann (Eds.): Mechanistic Explanations in Physics and Beyond (European Studies in Philosophy of Science): Springer, Dordrecht, 2019, VIII, 220 Pp, 103,99€ (Hardcover), ISBN: 978-3-030-10706-2. [REVIEW]Veli-Pekka Parkkinen - 2020 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 51 (4):631-635.
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  • A Regularist Approach to Mechanistic Type-Level Explanation.Beate Krickel - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (4):00-00.
    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Development and Mechanistic Explanation.Fabrizzio Mc Manus - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (2):532-541.
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  • Collaborative Explanation and Biological Mechanisms.Melinda Bonnie Fagan - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 52:67-78.
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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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  • 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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  • The Ontology of Organisms: Mechanistic Modules or Patterned Processes?Christopher 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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  • Equilibrium Explanation as Structural Non-Mechanistic Explanation: The Case Long-Term Bacterial Persistence in Human Hosts.Javier Suárez & Roger Deulofeu - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 3 (38):95-120.
    Philippe Huneman has recently questioned the widespread application of mechanistic models of scientific explanation based on the existence of structural explanations, i.e. explanations that account for the phenomenon to be explained in virtue of the mathematical properties of the system where the phenomenon obtains, rather than in terms of the mechanisms that causally produce the phenomenon. Structural explanations are very diverse, including cases like explanations in terms of bowtie structures, in terms of the topological properties of the system, or in (...)
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  • Scientific Practice in Modeling Diseases: Stances From Cancer Research and Neuropsychiatry.Marta Bertolaso & Raffaella Campaner - 2020 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (1):105-128.
    In the last few decades, philosophy of science has increasingly focused on multilevel models and causal mechanistic explanations to account for complex biological phenomena. On the one hand, biological and biomedical works make extensive use of mechanistic concepts; on the other hand, philosophers have analyzed an increasing range of examples taken from different domains in the life sciences to test—support or criticize—the adequacy of mechanistic accounts. The article highlights some challenges in the elaboration of mechanistic explanations with a focus on (...)
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Isolability as the Unifying Feature of Modularity.Lucas 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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  • Evo-Devo: A Science of Dispositions.Christopher 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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  • 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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  • Evolutionary causes as mechanisms: a critical analysis.Saúl Pérez-González & Victor J. Luque - 2019 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 41 (2):13.
    In this paper, we address the question whether a mechanistic approach can account for evolutionary causes. The last decade has seen a major attempt to account for natural selection as a mechanism. Nevertheless, we stress the relevance of broadening the debate by including the other evolutionary causes inside the mechanistic approach, in order to be a legitimate conceptual framework on the same footing as other approaches to evolutionary theory. We analyse the current debate on natural selection as a mechanism, and (...)
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Biological Atomism and Cell Theory.Daniel J. Nicholson - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (3):202-211.
    Biological atomism postulates that all life is composed of elementary and indivisible vital units. The activity of a living organism is thus conceived as the result of the activities and interactions of its elementary constituents, each of which individually already exhibits all the attributes proper to life. This paper surveys some of the key episodes in the history of biological atomism, and situates cell theory within this tradition. The atomistic foundations of cell theory are subsequently dissected and discussed, together with (...)
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  • Organisms ≠ Machines.Daniel J. Nicholson - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):669-678.
    The machine conception of the organism (MCO) is one of the most pervasive notions in modern biology. However, it has not yet received much attention by philosophers of biology. The MCO has its origins in Cartesian natural philosophy, and it is based on the metaphorical redescription of the organism as a machine. In this paper I argue that although organisms and machines resemble each other in some basic respects, they are actually very different kinds of systems. I submit that the (...)
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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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  • On Closing the Gap Between Philosophical Concepts and Their Usage in Scientific Practice: A Lesson From the Debate About Natural Selection as a Mechanism.Lucas J. Matthews - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 55:21-28.
    In addition to theorizing about the role and value of mechanisms in scientific explanation or the causal structure of the world, there is a fundamental task of getting straight what a ‘mechanism’ is in the first place. Broadly, this paper is about the challenge of application: the challenge of aligning one's philosophical account of a scientific concept with the manner in which that concept is actually used in scientific practice. This paper considers a case study of the challenge of application (...)
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  • Synthetic Biology and its Alternatives. Descartes, Kant and the Idea of Engineering Biological Machines.Werner Kogge & Michael Richter - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (2):181-189.
    The engineering-based approach of synthetic biology is characterized by an assumption that ‘engineering by design’ enables the construction of ‘living machines’. These ‘machines’, as biological machines, are expected to display certain properties of life, such as adapting to changing environments and acting in a situated way. This paper proposes that a tension exists between the expectations placed on biological artefacts and the notion of producing such systems by means of engineering; this tension makes it seem implausible that biological systems, especially (...)
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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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  • 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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  • 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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