Are bio-ontologies metaphysical theories?

Synthese 199 (3-4):11587-11608 (2021)
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Bio-ontologies are digital frameworks for handling biological and biomedical data. They consist of theoretical entities and relations with explicitly defined logical structures and precise definitions, whose purpose is to provide a shared language for representing information to be distributed and integrated across diverse scientific contexts. It is tempting to view bio-ontologies as clear and formal expressions of a scientific community’s ontological commitments about their domain of inquiry, and to view their integration as tantamount to the metaphysical unification of science that some philosophers have envisaged. However, I argue that the local, practical, social and technological factors that influence their design prevent us from straightforwardly reading metaphysical conclusions from them. I discuss these complications and suggest how they can be overcome, revealing more general lessons for the development of a well-founded scientific metaphysics.



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Oliver Lean
University of Bristol

Citations of this work

The Justice and Ontology of Gastrospaces.Matteo Bonotti, Andrea Borghini, Nicola Piras & Beatrice Serini - 2023 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 26 (1):91-111.

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References found in this work

Every thing must go: metaphysics naturalized.James Ladyman & Don Ross - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Don Ross, David Spurrett & John G. Collier.
Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 2008 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Data-Centric Biology: A Philosophical Study.Sabina Leonelli - 2016 - London: University of Chicago Press.

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