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  1. The logic of explanation in molecular biology: historical-processual and logical-procedural aspects.Giovanni Boniolo & Raffaella Campaner - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (1):1-24.
    This work addresses biological explanations and aims to provide a philosophical account which brings together logical-procedural and historical-processual aspects when considering molecular pathways. It is argued that, having molecular features as explananda, a particular non-classical logical language – Zsyntax – can be used to formally represent, in terms of logical theorems, types of molecular processes, and to grasp how we get from one molecular interaction to another, hence explaining why a given outcome occurs. Expressing types of molecular biology processes in (...)
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  • Causes with Material Continuity.Lauren N. Ross - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (6):1-17.
    Recent philosophical work on causation has focused on distinctions across types of causal relationships. This paper argues for another distinction that has yet to receive attention in this work. This distinction has to do with whether causal relationships have “material continuity,” which refers to the reliable movement of material from cause to effect. This paper provides an analysis of material continuity and argues that causal relationships with this feature are associated with a unique explanatory perspective, are studied with distinct causal (...)
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  • Control Mechanisms: Explaining the Integration and Versatility of Biological Organisms.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2022 - Adaptive Behavior.
    Living organisms act as integrated wholes to maintain themselves. Individual actions can each be explained by characterizing the mechanisms that perform the activity. But these alone do not explain how various activities are coordinated and performed versatilely. We argue that this depends on a specific type of mechanism, a control mechanism. We develop an account of control by examining several extensively studied control mechanisms operative in the bacterium E. coli. On our analysis, what distinguishes a control mechanism from other mechanisms (...)
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  • How Causal Are Microbiomes? A Comparison with the H Elicobacter Pylori Explanation of Ulcers.Kate E. Lynch, Emily C. Parke & Maureen A. O’Malley - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (6):62.
    Human microbiome research makes causal connections between entire microbial communities and a wide array of traits that range from physiological diseases to psychological states. To evaluate these causal claims, we first examine a well-known single-microbe causal explanation: of Helicobacter pylori causing ulcers. This apparently straightforward causal explanation is not so simple, however. It does not achieve a key explanatory standard in microbiology, of Koch’s postulates, which rely on manipulations of single-microorganism cultures to infer causal relationships to disease. When Koch’s postulates (...)
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  • Commentary on ‘How Causal Are Microbiomes?’.Melinda Bonnie Fagan - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (6):58.
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  • Interactionism, Post-Interactionism, and Causal Complexity: Lessons From the Philosophy of Causation.María Ferreira Ruiz & Jon Umerez - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 12.
    In biology and philosophy of biology, discussing the notion of interaction leads to an examination of interactionism, which is, broadly speaking, the view that rejects gene-centrism and gene determinism and instead emphasizes the fact that traits of organisms are always the result of genes and environments. It has long been asserted that the nature-nurture problem requires an interactionist solution of sorts, the so-called interactionist consensus. This consensus, however, has been deemed insufficient and challenged by several authors triggering an extension of (...)
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  • Causal Selection Versus Causal Parity in Biology: Relevant Counterfactuals and Biologically Normal Interventions.Marcel Weber - forthcoming - In C. Kenneth Waters & James Woodward (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Causal Reasoning in Biology. Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science. Vol. XXI. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
    Causal selection is the task of picking out, from a field of known causally relevant factors, some factors as elements of an explanation. The Causal Parity Thesis in the philosophy of biology challenges the usual ways of making such selections among different causes operating in a developing organism. The main target of this thesis is usually gene centrism, the doctrine that genes play some special role in ontogeny, which is often described in terms of information-bearing or programming. This paper is (...)
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  • What is Causal Specificity About, and What is It Good for in Philosophy of Biology?María Ferreira Ruiz - 2021 - Acta Biotheoretica 69 (4):821-839.
    The concept of causal specificity is drawing considerable attention from philosophers of biology. It became the rationale for rejecting a thesis of causal parity of developmental factors. This literature assumes that attributing specificity to causal relations is at least in principle a straightforward task. However, the parity debate in philosophy of biology seems to be stuck at a point where it is not the biological details that will help move forward. In this paper, I take a step back to reexamine (...)
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  • Distinguishing Topological and Causal Explanation.Lauren N. Ross - 2021 - Synthese 198 (10):9803-9820.
    Recent philosophical work has explored the distinction between causal and non-causal forms of explanation. In this literature, topological explanation is viewed as a clear example of the non-causal variety–it is claimed that topology lacks temporal information, which is necessary for causal structure. This paper explores the distinction between topological and causal forms of explanation and argues that this distinction is not as clear cut as the literature suggests. One reason for this is that some explanations involve both topological and causal (...)
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  • Causal Concepts in Biology: How Pathways Differ From Mechanisms and Why It Matters.Lauren N. Ross - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (1):131-158.
    In the last two decades few topics in philosophy of science have received as much attention as mechanistic explanation. A significant motivation for these accounts is that scientists frequently use the term “mechanism” in their explanations of biological phenomena. While scientists appeal to a variety of causal concepts in their explanations, many philosophers argue or assume that all of these concepts are well understood with the single notion of mechanism. This reveals a significant problem with mainstream mechanistic accounts– although philosophers (...)
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  • How Causal Are Microbiomes? A Comparison with the Helicobacter Pylori Explanation of Ulcers.Kate E. Lynch, Emily C. Parke & Maureen A. O’Malley - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (6):62.
    Human microbiome research makes causal connections between entire microbial communities and a wide array of traits that range from physiological diseases to psychological states. To evaluate these causal claims, we first examine a well-known single-microbe causal explanation: of Helicobacter pylori causing ulcers. This apparently straightforward causal explanation is not so simple, however. It does not achieve a key explanatory standard in microbiology, of Koch’s postulates, which rely on manipulations of single-microorganism cultures to infer causal relationships to disease. When Koch’s postulates (...)
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  • Chemical Arbitrariness and the Causal Role of Molecular Adapters.Oliver M. Lean - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 78:101180.
    Jacques Monod (1971) argued that certain molecular processes rely critically on the property of chemical arbitrariness, which he claimed allows those processes to “transcend the laws of chemistry”. It seems natural, as some philosophers have done, to interpret this in modal terms: a biological relationship is chemically arbitrary if it is possible, within the constraints of chemical “law”, for that relationship to have been otherwise than it is. But while modality is certainly important for understanding chemical arbitrariness, understanding its biological (...)
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