Results for 'explanation in biology'

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  1. What Constitutes an Explanation in Biology?Angela Potochnik - 2019 - In Kostas Kampourakis & Tobias Uller (eds.), Philosophy of Science for Biologists. New York, NY: 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 (...)
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  2. 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 (...)
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  3. 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 (...)
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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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 (...)
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  7. 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 simply explicated (...)
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  8. 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 (...)
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  9. Assuming in biology the reality of real virtuality (a come back for entelechy?).Armando Aranda-Anzaldo - 2011 - Ludus Vitalis 19 (36):333-342.
    Since Aristotle the central question in biology was the origin of organic form; a question put in the backyard by neo-Darwinism that considers organic form as a side effect of the interactions between genes and their products. On the other hand, the fashionable notion of self-organization also fails to provide a true causal explanation for organic form. For Aristotle form is both a cause and the principle of intelligibility and this coupled to the classical concepts of potentiality and (...)
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  10. 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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  11. 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 (...)
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  12. Thought Experiments in Biology.Guillaume Schlaepfer & Marcel Weber - 2018 - In Michael T. Stuart, Yiftach 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 (...)
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  13. 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 principles (...)
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  14. 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 (...)
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  15. Diagnosis and Causal Explanation in Psychiatry.Hane Htut Maung - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 60 (C):15-24.
    In clinical medicine, a diagnosis can offer an explanation of a patient's symptoms by specifying the pathology that is causing them. Diagnoses in psychiatry are also sometimes presented in clinical texts as if they pick out pathological processes that cause sets of symptoms. However, current evidence suggests the possibility that many diagnostic categories in psychiatry are highly causally heterogeneous. For example, major depressive disorder may not be associated with a single type of underlying pathological process, but with a range (...)
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  16. Biological Explanation.Angela Potochnik - 2013 - In Kostas Kampourakis (ed.), The Philosophy of Biology: a Companion for Educators. Dordrecht: 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 (...)
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  17. Causal Selection versus Causal Parity in Biology: Relevant Counterfactuals and Biologically Normal Interventions.Marcel Weber - forthcoming - In Waters C. Kenneth & Woodward James (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Causal Reasoning in Biology. Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science. Vol. XXI. 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 (...)
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  18.  66
    Dissertation Abstract - Math Over Mechanism: Proposing the Rational-Relational Theory of Scientific Explanation in Light of Impinging Constraints of New Mechanism.Jenny Nielsen - forthcoming - In ProQuest.
    In this dissertation I achieve the following: (1) I present motivating criteria for a general comprehensive theory of scientific explanation. I review historical approaches to modeling explanation in light of these criteria. (2) I present New Mechanist Explanation ("NME") as the leading candidate for a contemporary, complete theory of scientific explanation. (3) I present constraints on the applicability of New Mechanism in modeling biology, chemistry, and physics. I argue for the unsuitability of NME as a (...)
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  19. Is the Neo-Aristotelian Concept of Organism Presupposed in Biology?Parisa Moosavi - 2020 - In Hähnel Martin (ed.), Aristotelian Naturalism: A Research Companion. Springer.
    According to neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism, moral goodness is an instance of natural goodness, a kind of normativity supposedly already present in nature in the biological realm of non-human living things. Proponents of this view appeal to Michael Thompson’s conception of a life-form--the form of a living organism--to give an account of natural goodness. However, although neo-Aristotelians call themselves naturalists, they hardly ever consult the science of biology to defend their commitments regarding biological organisms. This has led many critics to (...)
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  20. 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 (...)
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  21. 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 (...)
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  22.  23
    Causal Selection vs Causal Parity in Biology: Relevant Counterfactuals and Biologically Normal Interventions.Marcel Weber - forthcoming - In Waters C. Kenneth & Woodward James (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Causal Reasoning in Biology. Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science. Vol. XXI. 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 (...)
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  23. Mechanism, autonomy and biological explanation.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (6):1-27.
    The new mechanists and the autonomy approach both aim to account for how biological phenomena are explained. One identifies appeals to how components of a mechanism are organized so that their activities produce a phenomenon. The other directs attention towards the whole organism and focuses on how it achieves self-maintenance. This paper discusses challenges each confronts and how each could benefit from collaboration with the other: the new mechanistic framework can gain by taking into account what happens outside individual mechanisms, (...)
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  24. 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 realist (...)
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  25. 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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  26. 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 and (...)
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  27. The challenges of purely mechanistic models in biology and the minimum need for a 'mechanism-plus-X' framework.Sepehr Ehsani - 2018 - Dissertation, University College London
    Ever since the advent of molecular biology in the 1970s, mechanical models have become the dogma in the field, where a "true" understanding of any subject is equated to a mechanistic description. This has been to the detriment of the biomedical sciences, where, barring some exceptions, notable new feats of understanding have arguably not been achieved in normal and disease biology, including neurodegenerative disease and cancer pathobiology. I argue for a "mechanism-plus-X" paradigm, where mainstay elements of mechanistic models (...)
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  28. The structure and significance of evolutionary explanations in philosophy.Bence Nanay - 2004 - In Havi Carel & David Gamez (eds.), What Philosophy is. Ccontinuum.
    The so-called evolutionary approach is getting more and more popular in various branches of philosophy. Evolutionary explanations are often used in virtually every classical philosophical discipline. The structure of evolutionary explanations is examined and it is pointed out that only one sub-category of evolutionary explanations, namely, nonreductive, non-stipulated adaptation-explanation can be of any philosophical significance. I finish by examining which of the proposed philosophical arguments use this kind of evolutionary explanation. The answer will be disappointing for those who (...)
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  29. 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 the stages (...)
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  30. 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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  31. 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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  32. 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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  33. Understanding Biology in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.Adham El Shazly, Elsa Lawerence, Srijit Seal, Chaitanya Joshi, Matthew Greening, Pietro Lio, Shantung Singh, Andreas Bender & Pietro Sormanni - manuscript
    Modern life sciences research is increasingly relying on artificial intelligence (AI) approaches to model biological systems, primarily centered around the use of machine learning (ML) models. Although ML is undeniably useful for identifying patterns in large, complex data sets, its widespread application in biological sciences represents a significant deviation from traditional methods of scientific inquiry. As such, the interplay between these models and scientific understanding in biology is a topic with important implications for the future of scientific research, yet (...)
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    Explanation, teleology, and analogy in natural history and comparative anatomy around 1800: Kant and Cuvier.Hein van den Berg - 2024 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 105 (C):109-119.
    This paper investigates conceptions of explanation, teleology, and analogy in the works of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and Georges Cuvier (1769-1832). Richards (2000, 2002) and Zammito (2006, 2012, 2018) have argued that Kant’s philosophy provided an obstacle for the project of establishing biology as a proper science around 1800. By contrast, Russell (1916), Outram (1986), and Huneman (2006, 2008) have argued, similar to suggestions from Lenoir (1989), that Kant’s philosophy influenced the influential naturalist Georges Cuvier. In this article, I (...)
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  35. 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 (...)
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  36. 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 (...)
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  37. Cascade versus Mechanism: The Diversity of Causal Structure in Science.Lauren N. Ross - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    According to mainstream philosophical views causal explanation in biology and neuroscience is mechanistic. As the term ‘mechanism’ gets regular use in these fields it is unsurprising that philosophers consider it important to scientific explanation. What is surprising is that they consider it the only causal term of importance. This paper provides an analysis of a new causal concept—it examines the cascade concept in science and the causal structure it refers to. I argue that this concept is importantly (...)
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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 for (...)
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  39. 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, (...)
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  40. How to define levels of explanation and evaluate their indispensability.Christopher Clarke - 2017 - Synthese 194 (6).
    Some explanations in social science, psychology and biology belong to a higher level than other explanations. And higher explanations possess the virtue of abstracting away from the details of lower explanations, many philosophers argue. As a result, these higher explanations are irreplaceable. And this suggests that there are genuine higher laws or patterns involving social, psychological and biological states. I show that this ‘abstractness argument’ is really an argument schema, not a single argument. This is because the argument uses (...)
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  41. 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 science: The case of biology and history. Dordrecht: Springer. 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 of (...)
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  42. 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 face (...)
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  43. 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 by a (...)
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  44. The Explanatory Role of Machine Learning in Molecular Biology.Fridolin Gross - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    The philosophical debate around the impact of machine learning in science is often framed in terms of a choice between AI and classical methods as mutually exclusive alternatives involving difficult epistemological trade-offs. A common worry regarding machine learning methods specifically is that they lead to opaque models that make predictions but do not lead to explanation or understanding. Focusing on the field of molecular biology, I argue that in practice machine learning is often used with explanatory aims. More (...)
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  45. Standard Aberration: Cancer Biology and the Modeling Account of Normal Function.Seth Goldwasser - 2023 - Biology and Philosophy 38 (1):(4) 1-33.
    Cancer biology features the ascription of normal functions to parts of cancers. At least some ascriptions of function in cancer biology track local normality of parts within the global abnormality of the aberration to which those parts belong. That is, cancer biologists identify as functions activities that, in some sense, parts of cancers are supposed to perform, despite cancers themselves having no purpose. The present paper provides a theory to accommodate these normal function ascriptions—I call it the Modeling (...)
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  46. Unifying the essential concepts of biological networks: biological insights and philosophical foundations.Daniel Kostic, Claus Hilgetag & Marc Tittgemeyer - 2020 - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 375 (1796):1-8.
    Over the last decades, network-based approaches have become highly popular in diverse fields of biology, including neuroscience, ecology, molecular biology and genetics. While these approaches continue to grow very rapidly, some of their conceptual and methodological aspects still require a programmatic foundation. This challenge particularly concerns the question of whether a generalized account of explanatory, organisational and descriptive levels of networks can be applied universally across biological sciences. To this end, this highly interdisciplinary theme issue focuses on the (...)
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  47. Aristotle and the search of a rational framework for biology.Armando Aranda-Anzaldo - 2019 - Organisms 3 (2):54-64.
    Chance and necessity are mainstays of explanation in current biology, dominated by the neo-Darwinian outlook, a blend of the theory of evolution by natural selection with the basic tenets of population genetics. In such a framework the form of living organisms is somehow a side effect of highly contingent, historical accidents. Thus, at a difference of other sciences, biology apparently lacks theoretical principles that in a law-like fashion may explain the emergence and persistence of the characteristic forms (...)
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  48.  45
    In Defence of Linguistics as an Empirical Science in Light of Mario Bunge’s Defence of the Scientific Treatment of Biology.Dorota Zielińska - 2024 - Mεtascience: Scientific General Discourse 3:205-251.
    Although few linguists currently embrace the empirical paradigm, there are increasing calls for the development of tools for studying language that resemble those in exact sciences. This trend can be observed even in top mainstream linguistic journals, such as the Journal of Pragmatics, as exemplified by Xiang (2017). Today, however, linguists who adapt the methodologies from more advanced sciences face isolation from the mainstream linguistic community. This is because the majority of linguists in philological and philosophical departments remain convinced that (...)
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  49. 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 solution of all these three problems (...)
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  50. 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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