Results for 'Biological Explanation'

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  1. 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 (...)
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  2. Biological Explanations, Realism, Ontology, and Categories.Matthew J. Barker - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):617-622.
    This is an extended review of John Dupré's _Processes of Life_, a collection of essays. It clarifies Dupré's concepts of reductionism and anti-reductionism, and critically examines his associated discussions of downward causation, and both the context sensitivity and multiple realization of categories. It reviews his naturalistic monism, and critically distinguishes between his realism about categories and constructivism about classification. Challenges to his process ontology are presented, as are arguments for his pluralism about scientific categories. None of his main conclusions are (...)
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  3. Biological Explanation.Angela Potochnik - 2013 - In Kostas Kampourakis (ed.), The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators. Springer. pp. 49-65.
    One of the central aims of science is explanation: scientists seek to uncover why things happen the way they do. This chapter addresses what kinds of explanations are formulated in biology, how explanatory aims influence other features of the field of biology, and the implications of all of this for biology education. Philosophical treatments of scientific explanation have been both complicated and enriched by attention to explanatory strategies in biology. Most basically, whereas traditional philosophy of science based (...) on derivation from scientific laws, there are many biological explanations in which laws play little or no role. Instead, the field of biology is a natural place to turn for support for the idea that causal information is explanatory. Biology has also been used to motivate mechanistic accounts of explanation, as well as criticisms of that approach. Ultimately, the most pressing issue about explanation in biology may be how to account for the wide range of explanatory styles encountered in the field. This issue is crucial, for the aims of biological explanation influence a variety of other features of the field of biology. Explanatory aims account for the continued neglect of some central causal factors, a neglect that would otherwise be mysterious. This is linked to the persistent use of models like evolutionary game theory and population genetic models, models that are simplified to the point of unreality. These explanatory aims also offer a way to interpret many biologists’ total commitment to one or another methodological approach, and the intense disagreements that result. In my view, such debates are better understood as arising not from different theoretical commitments, but commitments to different explanatory projects. Biology education would thus be enriched by attending to approaches to biological explanation, as well as the unexpected ways that these explanatory aims influence other features of biology. I suggest five lessons for teaching about explanation in biology that follow from the considerations of this chapter. (shrink)
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  4.  90
    Towards a Biological Explanation of Sin in Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s “A Canticle for Leibowitz”.Christopher Ketcham - 2020 - Journal of Science Fiction and Philosophy 3:1-25.
    Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s 1959 novel A Canticle for Leibowitz is on one level a theological reflection on the human propensity to sin. Not coincidentally, the story is located in an Albertinian abbey in the former American southwest six hundred years after a nuclear holocaust, recounting three separate historical periods over the following twelve hundred years: a dark age, a scientific renaissance, and finally a time of technological achievement where a second nuclear holocaust is imminent. Miller asks the question of (...)
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  5. On Nature and Normativity: Normativity, Teleology, and Mechanism in Biological Explanation.Lenny Moss & Daniel J. Nicholson - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):88-91.
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  6. The Scope and Limits of Biological Explanations in Archaeology.Ben Jeffares - 2003 - Dissertation, Victoria University of Wellington
    I show how archaeologists have two problems. The construction of scenarios accounting for the raw data of Archaeology, the material remains of the past, and the explanation of pre-history. Within Archaeology, there has been an ongoing debate about how to constrain speculation within both of these archaeological projects, and archaeologists have consistently looked to biological mechanisms for constraints. I demonstrate the problems of using biology, either as an analogy for cultural processes or through direct application of biological (...)
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  7. What Constitutes an Explanation in Biology?Angela Potochnik - 2020 - In Kostas Kampourakis & Tobias Uller (eds.), Philosophy of Science for Biologists. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    One of biology's fundamental aims is to generate understanding of the living world around—and within—us. In this chapter, I aim to provide a relatively nonpartisan discussion of the nature of explanation in biology, grounded in widely shared philosophical views about scientific explanation. But this discussion also reflects what I think is important for philosophers and biologists alike to appreciate about successful scientific explanations, so some points will be controversial, at least among philosophers. I make three main points: (1) (...)
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  8.  38
    Mathematical Explanations in Evolutionary Biology or Naturalism? A Challenge for the Statisticalist.Fabio Sterpetti - 2021 - Foundations of Science 27 (3):1073-1105.
    This article presents a challenge that those philosophers who deny the causal interpretation of explanations provided by population genetics might have to address. Indeed, some philosophers, known as statisticalists, claim that the concept of natural selection is statistical in character and cannot be construed in causal terms. On the contrary, other philosophers, known as causalists, argue against the statistical view and support the causal interpretation of natural selection. The problem I am concerned with here arises for the statisticalists because the (...)
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  9. A Biological Alternative to Moral Explanations.Joseph Millum - 2008 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 46 (3):385-407.
    Some moral realists claim that moral facts are a species of natural fact, amenable to scientific investigation. They argue that these moral facts are needed in the best explanations of certain phenomena and that this is evidence that they are real. In this paper I present part of a biological account of the function of morality. The account allows the identification of a plausible natural kind that could play the explanatory role that a moral kind would play in naturalist (...)
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  10. How-Possibly Explanation in Biology: Lessons From Wilhelm His’s ‘Simple Experiments’ Models.Christopher Pearson - 2018 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 10 (4).
    A common view of how-possibly explanations in biology treats them as explanatorily incomplete. In addition to this interpretation of how-possibly explanation, I argue that there is another interpretation, one which features what I term “explanatory strategies.” This strategy-centered interpretation of how-possibly explanation centers on there being a different explanatory context within which how-possibly explanations are offered. I contend that, in conditions where this strategy context is recognized, how-possibly explanations can be understood as complete explanations. I defend this alternative (...)
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  11. COMPARING PART-WHOLE REDUCTIVE EXPLANATIONS IN BIOLOGY AND PHYSICS.Alan C. Love & Andreas Hüttemann - 2011 - In Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao Gonzalo, Thomas Uebel, Stephan Hartmann & Marcel Weber (eds.), Explanation, Prediction, and Confirmation. Springer. pp. 183--202.
    Many biologists and philosophers have worried that importing models of reasoning from the physical sciences obscures our understanding of reasoning in the life sciences. In this paper we discuss one example that partially validates this concern: part-whole reductive explanations. Biology and physics tend to incorporate different models of temporality in part-whole reductive explanations. This results from differential emphases on compositional and causal facets of reductive explanations, which have not been distinguished reliably in prior philosophical analyses. Keeping these two facets distinct (...)
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  12. Realism Explanation and Truth in the Biological Sciences.Michael Alexander Ward - 1994 - Dissertation, University of Bradford
    The traditional emphasis on the physics of the very small is questioned, and the suggestion made that a crucial test of contributions to the philosophy of science ought to be their applicability to areas which are more representative of the scientific enterprise. Life science is cited as just such an area. It is quantum physics, rather than biology, which nurtures anti-realism. The most respected anti-realism today is that provided by Bas C van Fraassen; and the persuasiveness of his "Constructive Empiricism" (...)
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  13. Determinism and Total Explanation in the Biological and Behavioral Sciences.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2014 - Encyclopedia of Life Sciences.
    Should we think of our universe as law-governed and “clockwork”-like or as disorderly and “soup”-like? Alternatively, should we consciously and intentionally synthesize these two extreme pictures? More concretely, how deterministic are the postulated causes and how rigid are the modeled properties of the best statistical methodologies used in the biological and behavioral sciences? The charge of this entry is to explore thinking about causation in the temporal evolution of biological and behavioral systems. Regression analysis and path analysis are (...)
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  14.  8
    Two Kinds of Historical Explanation in Evolutionary Biology.Nina Kranke - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (3):1-21.
    Historical explanations in evolutionary biology are commonly characterized as narrative explanations. Examples include explanations of the evolution of particular traits and explanations of macroevolutionary transitions. In this paper I present two case studies of explanations in accounts of pathogen evolution and host-pathogen coevolution, respectively, and argue that one of them is captured well by established accounts of time-sequenced narrative explanation. The other one differs from narrative explanations in important respects, even though it shares some characteristics with them as it (...)
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  15. Diagrams as Locality Aids for Explanation and Model Construction in Cell Biology.Nicholaos Jones & Olaf Wolkenhauer - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (5):705-721.
    Using as case studies two early diagrams that represent mechanisms of the cell division cycle, we aim to extend prior philosophical analyses of the roles of diagrams in scientific reasoning, and specifically their role in biological reasoning. The diagrams we discuss are, in practice, integral and indispensible elements of reasoning from experimental data about the cell division cycle to mathematical models of the cycle’s molecular mechanisms. In accordance with prior analyses, the diagrams provide functional explanations of the cell cycle (...)
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  16. Grounding Explanations.Louis deRosset - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13.
    A compelling idea holds that reality has a layered structure. We often disagree about what inhabits the bottom layer, but we agree that higher up we find chemical, biological, geological, psychological, sociological, economic, /etc./, entities: molecules, human beings, diamonds, mental states, cities, interest rates, and so on. How is this intuitive talk of a layered structure of entities to be understood? Traditionally, philosophers have proposed to understand layered structure in terms of either reduction or supervenience. But these traditional views (...)
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  17.  78
    Principled Mechanistic Explanations in Biology: A Case Study of Alzheimer's Disease.Sepehr Ehsani - manuscript
    Following an analysis of the state of investigations and clinical outcomes in the Alzheimer's research field, I argue that the widely-accepted 'amyloid cascade' mechanistic explanation of Alzheimer's disease appears to be fundamentally incomplete. In this context, I propose that a framework termed 'principled mechanism' (PM) can help with remedying this problem. First, using a series of five 'tests', PM systematically compares different components of a given mechanistic explanation against a paradigmatic set of criteria, and hints at various ways (...)
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  18. 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 (...)
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  19. Active Biological Mechanisms: Transforming Energy Into Motion in Molecular Motors.William Bechtel & Andrew Bollhagen - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):12705-12729.
    Unless one embraces activities as foundational, understanding activities in mechanisms requires an account of the means by which entities in biological mechanisms engage in their activities—an account that does not merely explain activities in terms of more basic entities and activities. Recent biological research on molecular motors exemplifies such an account, one that explains activities in terms of free energy and constraints. After describing the characteristic “stepping” activities of these molecules and mapping the stages of those steps onto (...)
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  20. High-Level Explanation and the Interventionist’s ‘Variables Problem’.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):553-577.
    The interventionist account of causal explanation, in the version presented by Jim Woodward, has been recently claimed capable of buttressing the widely felt—though poorly understood—hunch that high-level, relatively abstract explanations, of the sort provided by sciences like biology, psychology and economics, are in some cases explanatorily optimal. It is the aim of this paper to show that this is mistaken. Due to a lack of effective constraints on the causal variables at the heart of the interventionist causal-explanatory scheme, as (...)
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  21. General Theory of Topological Explanations and Explanatory Asymmetry.Daniel Kostic - 2020 - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 375 (1796):1-8.
    In this paper, I present a general theory of topological explanations, and illustrate its fruitfulness by showing how it accounts for explanatory asymmetry. My argument is developed in three steps. In the first step, I show what it is for some topological property A to explain some physical or dynamical property B. Based on that, I derive three key criteria of successful topological explanations: a criterion concerning the facticity of topological explanations, i.e. what makes it true of a particular system; (...)
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  22. Are Biological Traits Explained by Their 'Selected Effect' Functions?Joshua R. Christie, Carl Brusse, Pierrick Bourrat, Peter Takacs & Paul Edmund Griffiths - forthcoming - Australasian Philosophical Review.
    The selected effects or ‘etiological’ theory of Proper function is a naturalistic and realist account of biological teleology. It is used to analyse normativity in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of medicine and elsewhere. The theory has been developed with a simple and intuitive view of natural selection. Traits are selected because of their positive effects on the fitness of the organisms that have them. These ‘selected effects’ are the Proper functions of the traits. Proponents argue that (...)
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  23. The Ontic Account of Scientific Explanation.Carl F. Craver - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver R. Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the Special Sciences: The Case of Biology and History. Springer Verlag. pp. 27-52.
    According to one large family of views, scientific explanations explain a phenomenon (such as an event or a regularity) by subsuming it under a general representation, model, prototype, or schema (see Bechtel, W., & Abrahamsen, A. (2005). Explanation: A mechanist alternative. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 36(2), 421–441; Churchland, P. M. (1989). A neurocomputational perspective: The nature of mind and the structure of science. Cambridge: MIT Press; Darden (2006); Hempel, C. G. (1965). Aspects (...)
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  24. An Organisational Approach to Biological Communication.Ramiro Frick, Leonardo Bich & Alvaro Moreno - 2019 - Acta Biotheoretica (2):103-128.
    This paper aims to provide a philosophical and theoretical account of biological communication grounded in the notion of organisation. The organisational approach characterises living systems as organised in such a way that they are capable to self-produce and self-maintain while in constant interaction with the environment. To apply this theoretical framework to the study of biological communication, we focus on a specific approach, based on the notion of influence, according to which communication takes place when a signal emitted (...)
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  25. Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology.Daniel J. Nicholson & John Dupré (eds.) - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    This collection of essays explores the metaphysical thesis that the living world is not made up of substantial particles or things, as has often been assumed, but is rather constituted by processes. The biological domain is organised as an interdependent hierarchy of processes, which are stabilised and actively maintained at different timescales. Even entities that intuitively appear to be paradigms of things, such as organisms, are actually better understood as processes. Unlike previous attempts to articulate processual views of biology, (...)
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  26. Biological Autonomy.Attila Grandpierre & Menas Kafatos - 2012 - Philosophy Study 2 (9):631-649.
    We argue that genuine biological autonomy, or described at human level as free will, requires taking into account quantum vacuum processes in the context of biological teleology. One faces at least three basic problems of genuine biological autonomy: (1) if biological autonomy is not physical, where does it come from? (2) Is there a room for biological causes? And (3) how to obtain a workable model of biological teleology? It is shown here that the (...)
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  27. Pre-Theoretical Assumptions in Evolutionary Explanations of Female Sexuality.Elisabeth A. Lloyd - 1993 - Philosophical Studies 69 (2-3):139-153.
    My contribution to this Symposium focuses on the links between sexuality and reproduction from the evolutionary point of view.' The relation between women's sexuality and reproduction is particularly importantb ecause of a vital intersectionb etweenp olitics and biology feminists have noticed, for more than a century, that women's identity is often defined in terms of her reproductive capacity. More recently, in the second wave of the feminist movement in the United States, debates about women'si dentityh ave explicitlyi ncludeds exuality;m uch (...)
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  28. Heuristics, Descriptions, and the Scope of Mechanistic Explanation.Carlos Zednik - 2015 - In P. Braillard & C. Malaterre (eds.), Explanation in Biology. An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 295-318.
    The philosophical conception of mechanistic explanation is grounded on a limited number of canonical examples. These examples provide an overly narrow view of contemporary scientific practice, because they do not reflect the extent to which the heuristic strategies and descriptive practices that contribute to mechanistic explanation have evolved beyond the well-known methods of decomposition, localization, and pictorial representation. Recent examples from evolutionary robotics and network approaches to biology and neuroscience demonstrate the increasingly important role played by computer simulations (...)
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  29. The Causal Economy Approach to Scientific Explanation.Laura Franklin-Hall - forthcoming - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science.
    This paper sketches a causal account of scientific explanation designed to sustain the judgment that high-level, detail-sparse explanations—particularly those offered in biology—can be at least as explanatorily valuable as lower-level counterparts. The motivating idea is that complete explanations maximize causal economy: they cite those aspects of an event’s causal run-up that offer the biggest-bang-for-your-buck, by costing less (in virtue of being abstract) and delivering more (in virtue making the event stable or robust).
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  30. Evolutionary Biology and Classical Teleological Arguments for God's Existence.James Dominic Rooney - 2013 - Heythrop Journal 54 (4):617-630.
    Much has been made of how Darwinian thinking destroyed proofs for the existence of God from ‘design’ in the universe. I challenge that prevailing view by looking closely at classical ‘teleological’ arguments for the existence of God. One version championed by Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas stems from how chance is not a sufficient kind of ultimate explanation of the universe. In the course of constructing this argument, I argue that the classical understanding of teleology is no less necessary in (...)
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  31. Cultural Attractor Theory and Explanation.Andrew Buskell - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (13).
    Cultural attractor theory (CAT) is a highly visible and audacious approach to studying human cultural evolution. However, the explanatory aims and some central explanatory concepts of CAT remain unclear. Here I remedy these problems. I provide a reconstruction of CAT that recasts it as a theory of forces. I then demonstrate how this reinterpretation of CAT has the resources to generate both cultural distribution and evolvability explanations. I conclude by examining the potential benefits and drawbacks of this reconstruction.
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  32.  55
    Teleological Explanation: Surveying the Landscape.Jonathan Birch - 2009 - Dissertation, University of Cambridge
    This MPhil dissertation presents a novel account of teleological explanations in biology. I outline the “shorthand approach” to such explanations, on which they are taken to convey implicit evolutionary explanations. “Selected effects” accounts of teleological explanation dominate recent literature, but they struggle to accommodate teleological explanations of complex traits built through cumulative selection. I articulate the general notion of a landscape explanation, which, applied to biology, explains the evolution of complex features in a population by citing salient features (...)
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  33. Thought Experiments in Biology.Guillaume Schlaepfer & Marcel Weber - 2018 - In Michael T. Stuart, Yiftach J. H. Fehige & James Robert Brown (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments. London: Routledge. pp. 243-256.
    Unlike in physics, the category of thought experiment is not very common in biology. At least there are no classic examples that are as important and as well-known as the most famous thought experiments in physics, such as Galileo’s, Maxwell’s or Einstein’s. The reasons for this are far from obvious; maybe it has to do with the fact that modern biology for the most part sees itself as a thoroughly empirical discipline that engages either in real natural history or in (...)
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  34. The Concept of Mechanism in Biology.Daniel J. Nicholson - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):152-163.
    The concept of mechanism in biology has three distinct meanings. It may refer to a philosophical thesis about the nature of life and biology (‘mechanicism’), to the internal workings of a machine-like structure (‘machine mechanism’), or to the causal explanation of a particular phenomenon (‘causal mechanism’). In this paper I trace the conceptual evolution of ‘mechanism’ in the history of biology, and I examine how the three meanings of this term have come to be featured in the philosophy of (...)
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  35. Cancer Cells and Adaptive Explanations.Pierre-Luc Germain - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (6):785-810.
    The aim of this paper is to assess the relevance of somatic evolution by natural selection to our understanding of cancer development. I do so in two steps. In the first part of the paper, I ask to what extent cancer cells meet the formal requirements for evolution by natural selection, relying on Godfrey-Smith’s (2009) framework of Darwinian populations. I argue that although they meet the minimal requirements for natural selection, cancer cells are not paradigmatic Darwinian populations. In the second (...)
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  36. Formal Biology and Compositional Biology as Two Kinds of Biological Theorizing.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2003 - Dissertation, Indiana University, HPS
    There are two fundamentally distinct kinds of biological theorizing. "Formal biology" focuses on the relations, captured in formal laws, among mathematically abstracted properties of abstract objects. Population genetics and theoretical mathematical ecology, which are cases of formal biology, thus share methods and goals with theoretical physics. "Compositional biology," on the other hand, is concerned with articulating the concrete structure, mechanisms, and function, through developmental and evolutionary time, of material parts and wholes. Molecular genetics, biochemistry, developmental biology, and physiology, which (...)
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  37. Causal Graphs and Biological Mechanisms.Alexander Gebharter & Marie I. Kaiser - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the special sciences: The case of biology and history. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 55-86.
    Modeling mechanisms is central to the biological sciences – for purposes of explanation, prediction, extrapolation, and manipulation. A closer look at the philosophical literature reveals that mechanisms are predominantly modeled in a purely qualitative way. That is, mechanistic models are conceived of as representing how certain entities and activities are spatially and temporally organized so that they bring about the behavior of the mechanism in question. Although this adequately characterizes how mechanisms are represented in biology textbooks, contemporary (...) research practice shows the need for quantitative, probabilistic models of mechanisms, too. In this paper we argue that the formal framework of causal graph theory is well-suited to provide us with models of biological mechanisms that incorporate quantitative and probabilistic information. On the ba-sis of an example from contemporary biological practice, namely feedback regulation of fatty acid biosynthesis in Brassica napus, we show that causal graph theoretical models can account for feedback as well as for the multi-level character of mechanisms. However, we do not claim that causal graph theoretical representations of mechanisms are advantageous in all respects and should replace common qualitative models. Rather, we endorse the more balanced view that causal graph theoretical models of mechanisms are useful for some purposes, while being insufficient for others. (shrink)
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  38. Mechanist Idealisation in Systems Biology.Dingmar van Eck & Cory Wright - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):1555-1575.
    This paper adds to the philosophical literature on mechanistic explanation by elaborating two related explanatory functions of idealisation in mechanistic models. The first function involves explaining the presence of structural/organizational features of mechanisms by reference to their role as difference-makers for performance requirements. The second involves tracking counterfactual dependency relations between features of mechanisms and features of mechanistic explanandum phenomena. To make these functions salient, we relate our discussion to an exemplar from systems biological research on the mechanism (...)
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  39. Subjectivity: A Case of Biological Individuation and an Adaptive Response to Informational Overflow.Jakub Jonkisz - 2016 - Frontiers in Psychology 7.
    The article presents a perspective on the scientific explanation of the subjectivity of conscious experience. It proposes plausible answers for two empirically valid questions: the ‘how’ question concerning the developmental mechanisms of subjectivity, and the ‘why’ question concerning its function. Biological individuation, which is acquired in several different stages, serves as a provisional description of how subjective perspectives may have evolved. To the extent that an individuated informational space seems the most efficient way for a given organism to (...)
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  40. On the Limits of Causal Modeling: Spatially-Structurally Complex Biological Phenomena.Marie I. Kaiser - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (5):921-933.
    This paper examines the adequacy of causal graph theory as a tool for modeling biological phenomena and formalizing biological explanations. I point out that the causal graph approach reaches it limits when it comes to modeling biological phenomena that involve complex spatial and structural relations. Using a case study from molecular biology, DNA-binding and -recognition of proteins, I argue that causal graph models fail to adequately represent and explain causal phenomena in this field. The inadequacy of these (...)
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  41. Competition Theory and Channeling Explanation.Christopher H. Eliot - 2011 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 3 (20130604):1-16.
    The complexity and heterogeneity of causes influencing ecology’s domain challenge its capacity to generate a general theory without exceptions, raising the question of whether ecology is capable, even in principle, of achieving the sort of theoretical success enjoyed by physics. Weber has argued that competition theory built around the Competitive Exclusion Principle (especially Tilman’s resource-competition model) offers an example of ecology identifying a law-like causal regularity. However, I suggest that as Weber presents it, the CEP is not yet a causal (...)
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  42. An Ontic Account of Explanatory Reduction in Biology.Marie I. Kaiser - 2012 - Köln: Kölner Hochschulschriften.
    Convincing disputes about explanatory reductionism in the philosophy of biology require a clear and precise understanding of what a reductive explanation in biology is. The central aim of this book is to provide such an account by revealing the features that determine the reductive character of a biological explanation. Chapters I-IV provide the ground, on which I can then, in Chapter V, develop my own account of explanatory reduction in biology: Chapter I reveals the meta-philosophical assumptions that (...)
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  43. Bowtie Structures, Pathway Diagrams, and Topological Explanation.Nicholaos Jones - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (5):1135-1155.
    While mechanistic explanation and, to a lesser extent, nomological explanation are well-explored topics in the philosophy of biology, topological explanation is not. Nor is the role of diagrams in topological explanations. These explanations do not appeal to the operation of mechanisms or laws, and extant accounts of the role of diagrams in biological science explain neither why scientists might prefer diagrammatic representations of topological information to sentential equivalents nor how such representations might facilitate important processes of (...)
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  44.  67
    Causation and Explanation in Phenotype Research.Özlem Yılmaz - 2017 - Balkan Journal of Philosophy 9 (1):63-70.
    A phenome occurs through the many pathways of the complex net of interaction between the phenome and its environment; therefore researching and understanding how it arises requires investigation into many possible causes that are in constant interaction with each other. The most comprehensive investigations in biology are the ones in which many biologists from different sub-areas—evolutionary biology, developmental biology, molecular biology, physiology, genetics, epigenetics, ecology—have collaborated. Still, biologists do not always need to collaborate or look for the most comprehensive explanations. (...)
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  45. When Bioscience Meets Philosophy: Major Issues in the Philosophy of Biology.Sun Kyeong Yu - 2011 - Philosophy and Reality 91:99-110.
    CONTENT 1. Misconceptions of Darwin's Theory of Evolution 2. Darwinism against Essentialism and the Concept of Species 3. Function and Biological Explanation 4. The Gene 목차 1. 다윈의 진화론에 대한 오해들 2. 본질주의에 대한 진화론의 반대와 종(Species)의 개념 3. 기능(function)과 생명과학적 설명 4. 유전자 맺음말.
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  46. Explaining Causal Selection with Explanatory Causal Economy: Biology and Beyond.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2015 - In P.-A. Braillard & C. Malaterre (eds.), Explanation in Biology: An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences. Springer. pp. 413-438.
    Among the factors necessary for the occurrence of some event, which of these are selectively highlighted in its explanation and labeled as causes — and which are explanatorily omitted, or relegated to the status of background conditions? Following J. S. Mill, most have thought that only a pragmatic answer to this question was possible. In this paper I suggest we understand this ‘causal selection problem’ in causal-explanatory terms, and propose that explanatory trade-offs between abstraction and stability can provide a (...)
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  47. Genetic Traits and Causal Explanation.Robert Northcott - 2012 - In Kathryn Plaisance & Thomas Reydon (eds.), Philosophy of Behavioral Biology. Springer. pp. 65-82.
    I use a contrastive theory of causal explanation to analyze the notion of a genetic trait. The resulting definition is relational, an implication of which is that no trait is genetic always and everywhere. Rather, every trait may be either genetic or non-genetic, depending on explanatory context. I also outline some other advantages of connecting the debate to the wider causation literature, including how that yields us an account of the distinction between genetic traits and genetic dispositions.
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  48. 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 (...)
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  49.  24
    Mathematical and Non-Causal Explanations: An Introduction.Daniel Kostić - 2019 - Perspectives on Science 1 (27):1-6.
    In the last couple of years, a few seemingly independent debates on scientific explanation have emerged, with several key questions that take different forms in different areas. For example, the questions what makes an explanation distinctly mathematical and are there any non-causal explanations in sciences (i.e., explanations that don’t cite causes in the explanans) sometimes take a form of the question of what makes mathematical models explanatory, especially whether highly idealized models in science can be explanatory and in (...)
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  50. Because Without Cause: Non-Causal Explanations in Science and Mathematics. [REVIEW]Mark Povich & Carl F. Craver - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (3):422-426.
    Lange’s collection of expanded, mostly previously published essays, packed with numerous, beautiful examples of putatively non-causal explanations from biology, physics, and mathematics, challenges the increasingly ossified causal consensus about scientific explanation, and, in so doing, launches a new field of philosophic investigation. However, those who embraced causal monism about explanation have done so because appeal to causal factors sorts good from bad scientific explanations and because the explanatory force of good explanations seems to derive from revealing the relevant (...)
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