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Marcel Weber
University of Geneva
  1. Hans Drieschs Argumente Für den Vitalismus.Marcel Weber - 1999 - Philosophia Naturalis 36 (2):263-293.
    Ich rekonstruiere und kritisiere Hans Drieschs Argumentation für die Behauptung, daß biologischen Prozessen nur eine substanzdualistische Ontologie der belebten Materie (Vitalismus) gerecht werden kann. Meine Diagnose lautet, daß Drieschs Argumentation zwar logisch schlüssig ist bzw. durch leichte Modifikationen in eine logisch gültige Form gebracht werden kann, aber von empirisch unbegründeten, metaphysischen Prämissen über die Möglichkeiten eines energieumwandelnden Mechanismus ausgeht.
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  2. The Central Dogma as a Thesis of Causal Specificity.Marcel Weber - 2006 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 28 (4):595-610.
    I present a reconstruction of F.H.C. Crick's two 1957 hypotheses "Sequence Hypothesis" and "Central Dogma" in terms of a contemporary philosophical theory of causation. Analyzing in particular the experimental evidence that Crick cited, I argue that these hypotheses can be understood as claims about the actual difference-making cause in protein synthesis. As these hypotheses are only true if restricted to certain nucleic acids in certain organisms, I then examine the concept of causal specificity and its potential to counter claims about (...)
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  3.  22
    Causal Specificity, Biological Possibility and Non-Parity About Genetic Causes.Marcel Weber - manuscript
    Several authors have used the notion of causal specificity in order to defend non-parity about genetic causes (Waters 2007, Woodward 2010, Weber 2017, forthcoming). Non-parity in this context is the idea that DNA and some other biomolecules that are often described as information-bearers by biologists play a unique role in life processes, an idea that has been challenged by Developmental Systems Theory (e.g., Oyama 2000). Indeed, it has proven to be quite difficult to state clearly what the alleged special role (...)
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  4. 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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  5. Experimental Modeling in Biology: In Vivo Representation and Stand-Ins As Modeling Strategies.Marcel Weber - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (5):756-769.
    Experimental modeling in biology involves the use of living organisms (not necessarily so-called "model organisms") in order to model or simulate biological processes. I argue here that experimental modeling is a bona fide form of scientific modeling that plays an epistemic role that is distinct from that of ordinary biological experiments. What distinguishes them from ordinary experiments is that they use what I call "in vivo representations" where one kind of causal process is used to stand in for a physically (...)
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  6. 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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  7. Reference, Truth, and Biological Kinds.Marcel Weber - 2014 - In: J. Dutant, D. Fassio and A. Meylan (Eds.) Liber Amicorum Pascal Engel.
    This paper examines causal theories of reference with respect to how plausible an account they give of non-physical natural kind terms such as ‘gene’ as well as of the truth of the associated theoretical claims. I first show that reference fixism for ‘gene’ fails. By this, I mean the claim that the reference of ‘gene’ was stable over longer historical periods, for example, since the classical period of transmission genetics. Second, I show that the theory of partial reference does not (...)
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  8.  86
    How Objective Are Biological Functions?Marcel Weber - 2017 - Synthese 194 (12):4741-4755.
    John Searle has argued that functions owe their existence to the value that we put into life and survival. In this paper, I will provide a critique of Searle’s argument concerning the ontology of functions. I rely on a standard analysis of functional predicates as relating not only a biological entity, an activity that constitutes the function of this entity and a type of system but also a goal state. A functional attribution without specification of such a goal state has (...)
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  9. Experimentation Versus Theory Choice: A Social-Epistemological Approach.Marcel Weber - 2011 - In Hans Bernhard Schmid, Daniel Sirtes & Marcel Weber (eds.), Collective Epistemology. Ontos. pp. 20--203.
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  10. On the Incompatibility of Biological Dynamical Mechanisms and Causal Graphs.Marcel Weber - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (5):959-971.
    I examine to what extent accounts of mechanisms based on formal interventionist theories of causality can adequately represent biological mechanisms with complex dynamics. Using a differential equation model for a circadian clock mechanism as an example, I first show that there exists an iterative solution that can be interpreted as a structural causal model. Thus, in principle it is possible to integrate causal difference-making information with dynamical information. However, the differential equation model itself lacks the right modularity properties for a (...)
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  11. Which Kind of Causal Specificity Matters Biologically?Marcel Weber - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (3):574-585.
    Griffiths et al. (2015) have proposed a quantitative measure of causal specificity and used it to assess various attempts to single out genetic causes as being causally more specific than other cellular mechanisms, for example, alternative splicing. Focusing in particular on developmental processes, they have identified a number of important challenges for this project. In this discussion note, I would like to show how these challenges can be met.
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  12. Rules, Reductionism, and Normativity: A Naturalistic Rejoinder.Marcel Weber - 2008 - In Sven Walter & Helen Bohse (eds.), GAP.6: Selected Papers Contributed to the Sections of the Sixth International Congress of the German Society for Analytic Philosophy.
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  13. Genes, Causation and Intentionality.Marcel Weber - 2005 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 27 (3/4):399-411.
    I want to exhibit the deeper metaphysical reasons why some common ways of describing the causal role of genes in development and evolution are problematic. Specifically, I show why using the concept of information in an intentional sense in genetics is inappropriate, even given a naturalistic account of intentionality. Furthermore, I argue that descriptions that use notions such as programming, directing or orchestrating are problematic not for empirical reasons, but because they are not strictly causal. They are intentional. By contrast, (...)
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  14.  42
    Philosophie der Lebenswissenschaften.Susanne Bauer, Lara Huber, Marie I. Kaiser, Lara Keuck, Ulrich Krohs, Maria Kronfeldner, Peter McLaughlin, Kären Nickelson, Thomas Reydon, Neil Roughley, Christian Sachse, Marianne Schark, Georg Toepfer, Marcel Weber & Markus Wild - 2013 - Information Philosophie 4:14-27.
    This paper summarizes (in German) recent tendencies in the philosophy of the life sciences.
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  15.  76
    Life in a Physical World: The Place of the Life Sciences.Marcel Weber - 2010 - In F. Stadler, D. Dieks, W. Gonzales, S. Hartmann, T. Uebel & M. Weber (eds.), The Present Situation in the Philosophy of Science. Springer. pp. 155--168.
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  16.  50
    Behavioral Traits, the Intentional Stance, and Biological Functions.Marcel Weber - 2011 - In Kathryn Plaisance & Thomas A. C. Reydon (eds.), Philosophy of Behavioral Biology. Berlin: Springer. pp. 317-328.
    It has been claimed that the intentional stance is necessary to individuate behavioral traits. This thesis, while clearly false, points to two interesting sets of problems concerning biological explanations of behavior: The first is a general in the philosophy of science: the theory-ladenness of observation. The second problem concerns the principles of trait individuation, which is a general problem in philosophy of biology. After discussing some alternatives, I show that one way of individuating the behavioral traits of an organism is (...)
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  17. Die Architektur der Synthese. Entstehung und Philosophie der modernen Evolutionstheorie.Marcel Weber - 1996 - Dissertation, University of Konstanz
    This Ph.D. thesis provides a pilosophical account of the structure of the evolutionary synthesis of the 1930s and 40s. The first, more historical part analyses how classical genetics came to be integrated into evolutionary thinking, highlighting in particular the importance of chromosomal mapping of Drosophila strains collected in the wild by Dobzansky, but also the work of Goldschmidt, Sumners, Timofeeff-Ressovsky and others. The second, more philosophical part attempts to answer the question wherein the unity of the synthesis consisted. I argue (...)
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