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

Abstract

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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