Reducing the Dauer Larva: molecular models of biological phenomena in Caenorhabditis elegans research.


One important aspect of biological explanation is detailed causal modeling of particular phenomena in limited experimental background conditions. Recognising this allows a new avenue for intertheoretic reduction to be seen. Reductions in biology are possible, when one fully recognises that a sufficient condition for a reduction in biology is a molecular model of 1) only the demonstrated causal parameters of a biological model and 2) only within a replicable experimental background. These intertheoretic identifications –which are ubiquitous in biology and form the basis of ruthless reductions (Bickle 2003)- are criticised as merely “local” (Sullivan 2009) or “fragmentary” (Schaffner 2006). However, in an instructive case, a biological model is preserved in molecular terms, and a complex biological phenomenon has been successfully reduced. In doing this the molecular model remains valid in a broader range of background conditions and meaningfully unites disparate biological phenomena.



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