Parts and theories in compositional biology

Biology and Philosophy 21 (4):471-499 (2006)
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Abstract

I analyze the importance of parts in the style of biological theorizing that I call compositional biology. I do this by investigating various aspects, including partitioning frames and explanatory accounts, of the theoretical perspectives that fall under and are guided by compositional biology. I ground this general examination in a comparative analysis of three different disciplines with their associated compositional theoretical perspectives: comparative morphology, functional morphology, and developmental biology. I glean data for this analysis from canonical textbooks and defend the use of such texts for the philosophy of science. I end with a discussion of the importance of recognizing formal and compositional biology as two genuinely different ways of doing biology – the differences arising more from their distinct methodologies than from scientific discipline included or natural domain studied. Ultimately, developing a translation manual between the two styles would be desirable as they currently are, at times, in conflict.

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Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther
University of California, Santa Cruz

Citations of this work

Who is a Modeler?Michael Weisberg - 2007 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):207-233.
Systems biology and the integration of mechanistic explanation and mathematical explanation.Ingo Brigandt - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):477-492.
The Structure of Scientific Theories.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Function, homology and character individuation.Paul E. Griffiths - 2006 - Philosophy of Science 73 (1):1-25.

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