Binding Specificity and Causal Selection in Drug Design

Philosophy of Science 87 (1):70-90 (2020)
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Binding specificity is a centrally important concept in molecular biology, yet it has received little philosophical attention. Here I aim to remedy this by analyzing binding specificity as a causal property. I focus on the concept’s role in drug design, where it is highly prized and hence directly studied. From a causal perspective, understanding why binding specificity is a valuable property of drugs contributes to an understanding of causal selection—of how and why scientists distinguish between causes, not just causes from noncauses. In particular, the specificity of drugs is precisely what underwrites their value as experimental interventions on biological processes.

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Oliver Lean
University of Bristol

Citations of this work

Coherent Causal Control: A New Distinction within Causation.Marcel Weber - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (4):69.
Philosophy of Developmental Biology.Marcel Weber - 2022 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Host Specificity in Biological Control.Thomas Blanchard - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

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Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
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