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Andrea Loettgers
University of Vienna
  1. Modelling as Indirect Representation? The Lotka–Volterra Model Revisited.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (4):1007-1036.
    ABSTRACT Is there something specific about modelling that distinguishes it from many other theoretical endeavours? We consider Michael Weisberg’s thesis that modelling is a form of indirect representation through a close examination of the historical roots of the Lotka–Volterra model. While Weisberg discusses only Volterra’s work, we also study Lotka’s very different design of the Lotka–Volterra model. We will argue that while there are elements of indirect representation in both Volterra’s and Lotka’s modelling approaches, they are largely due to two (...)
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  2.  96
    Varieties of Noise: Analogical Reasoning in Synthetic Biology.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 48:76-88.
    The picture of synthetic biology as a kind of engineering science has largely created the public understanding of this novel field, covering both its promises and risks. In this paper, we will argue that the actual situation is more nuanced and complex. Synthetic biology is a highly interdisciplinary field of research located at the interface of physics, chemistry, biology, and computational science. All of these fields provide concepts, metaphors, mathematical tools, and models, which are typically utilized by synthetic biologists by (...)
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  3.  55
    Model Templates Within and Between Disciplines: From Magnets to Gases – and Socio-Economic Systems.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 6 (3):377-400.
    One striking feature of the contemporary modelling practice is its interdisciplinary nature. The same equation forms, and mathematical and computational methods, are used across different disciplines, as well as within the same discipline. Are there, then, differences between intra- and interdisciplinary transfer, and can the comparison between the two provide more insight on the challenges of interdisciplinary theoretical work? We will study the development and various uses of the Ising model within physics, contrasting them to its applications to socio-economic systems. (...)
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  4.  38
    Basic Science Through Engineering? Synthetic Modeling and the Idea of Biology-Inspired Engineering.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (2):158-169.
    Synthetic biology is often understood in terms of the pursuit for well-characterized biological parts to create synthetic wholes. Accordingly, it has typically been conceived of as an engineering dominated and application oriented field. We argue that the relationship of synthetic biology to engineering is far more nuanced than that and involves a sophisticated epistemic dimension, as shown by the recent practice of synthetic modeling. Synthetic models are engineered genetic networks that are implanted in a natural cell environment. Their construction is (...)
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  5.  27
    Magnetized Memories: Analogies and Templates in Model Transfer.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - unknown
    One striking feature of the contemporary modeling practice is its interdisciplinarity: the same function forms and equations, and mathematical and computational methods are being transferred across disciplinary boundaries. Within philosophy of science this interdisciplinary dimension of modeling has been addressed by both analogy and template-based approaches that have proceeded separately from each other. We argue that a more fully-blown account of model transfer needs both perspectives. We examine analogical reasoning and template application through a detailed case study on the transfer (...)
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  6.  21
    Basic Science Through Engineering?: Synthetic Modeling and the Idea of Biology-Inspired Engineering.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (2):158-169.
    Synthetic biology is often understood in terms of the pursuit for well-characterized biological parts to create synthetic wholes. Accordingly, it has typically been conceived of as an engineering dominated and application oriented field. We argue that the relationship of synthetic biology to engineering is far more nuanced than that and involves a sophisticated epistemic dimension, as shown by the recent practice of synthetic modeling. Synthetic models are engineered genetic networks that are implanted in a natural cell environment. Their construction is (...)
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  7.  60
    Contrasting Cases: The Lotka-Volterra Model Times Three.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2016 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 319:151-178.
    How do philosophers of science make use of historical case studies? Are their accounts of historical cases purpose-built and lacking in evidential strength as a result of putting forth and discussing philosophical positions? We will study these questions through the examination of three different philosophical case studies. All of them focus on modeling and on Vito Volterra, contrasting his work to that of other theoreticians. We argue that the worries concerning the evidential role of historical case studies in philosophy are (...)
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  8.  33
    Magnets, Spins, and Neurons: The Dissemination of Model Templates Across Disciplines.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2014 - The Monist 97 (3):280-300.
    One of the most conspicuous features of contemporary modeling practices is the dissemination of mathematical and computational methods across disciplinary boundaries. We study this process through two applications of the Ising model: the Sherrington-Kirkpatrick model of spin glasses and the Hopfield model of associative memory. The Hopfield model successfully transferred some basic ideas and mathematical methods originally developed within the study of magnetic systems to the field of neuroscience. As an analytical resource we use Paul Humphreys's discussion of computational and (...)
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  9.  82
    What Are Definitions of Life Good For? Transdisciplinary and Other Definitions in Astrobiology.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (6):1185-1203.
    The attempt to define life has gained new momentum in the wake of novel fields such as synthetic biology, astrobiology, and artificial life. In a series of articles, Cleland, Chyba, and Machery claim that definitions of life seek to provide necessary and sufficient conditions for applying the concept of life—something that such definitions cannot, and should not do. We argue that this criticism is largely unwarranted. Cleland, Chyba, and Machery approach definitions of life as classifying devices, thereby neglecting their other (...)
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  10.  72
    Causal Isolation Robustness Analysis: The Combinatorial Strategy of Circadian Clock Research.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (5):773-791.
    This paper distinguishes between causal isolation robustness analysis and independent determination robustness analysis and suggests that the triangulation of the results of different epistemic means or activities serves different functions in them. Circadian clock research is presented as a case of causal isolation robustness analysis: in this field researchers made use of the notion of robustness to isolate the assumed mechanism behind the circadian rhythm. However, in contrast to the earlier philosophical case studies on causal isolation robustness analysis (Weisberg and (...)
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  11. The Productive Tension : Mechanisms Vs. Templates in Modeling the Phenomena.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2011 - In Paul Humphreys & Cyrille Imbert (eds.), Models, Simulations, and Representations. Routledge.
  12.  48
    Synthetic Modeling and Mechanistic Account: Material Recombination and Beyond.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):874-885.
    Recently, Bechtel and Abrahamsen have argued that mathematical models study the dynamics of mechanisms by recomposing the components and their operations into an appropriately organized system. We will study this claim through the practice of combinational modeling in circadian clock research. In combinational modeling, experiments on model organisms and mathematical/computational models are combined with a new type of model—a synthetic model. We argue that the strategy of recomposition is more complicated than what Bechtel and Abrahamsen indicate. Moreover, synthetic modeling as (...)
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  13.  36
    Synthetic Biology and the Emergence of a Dual Meaning of Noise.Andrea Loettgers - 2009 - Biological Theory 4 (4):340-356.
    The question is discussed how noise gained a functional meaning in the context of biology. According to the common view, noise is considered a disturbance or perturbation. I analyze how this understanding changed and what kind of developments during the last 10 years contributed to the emergence of a new understanding of noise. Results gained during a field study in a synthetic biology laboratory show that the emergence of this new research discipline—its highly interdisciplinary character, its new technologies and novel (...)
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  14.  43
    Mathematization in Synthetic Biology: Analogies, Templates, and Fictions.Andrea Loettgers & Tarja Knuuttila - 2017 - In Martin Carrier & Johannes Lenhard (eds.), Mathematics as a Tool. Tracing New Roles of Mathematics in the Sciences. Springer Verlag.
    In his famous article “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences” Eugen Wigner argues for a unique tie between mathematics and physics, invoking even religious language: “The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve”. The possible existence of such a unique match between mathematics and physics has been extensively discussed by philosophers and historians of mathematics. Whatever the merits (...)
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  15.  36
    Model Organisms and Mathematical and Synthetic Models to Explore Gene Regulation Mechanisms.Andrea Loettgers - 2007 - Biological Theory 2 (2):134-142.
    Gene regulatory networks are intensively studied in biology. One of the main aims of these studies is to gain an understanding of how the structure of genetic networks relates to specific functions such as chemotaxis and the circadian clock. Scientists have examined this question by using model organisms such as Drosophila and mathematical models. In the last years, synthetic models—engineered genetic networks—have become more and more important in the exploration of gene regulation. What is the potential of this new approach (...)
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  16.  35
    How Can History of Science Matter to Scientists?Jane Maienschein, Manfred Laubichler & Andrea Loettgers - 2008 - Isis 99 (2):341-349.
    History of science has developed into a methodologically diverse discipline, adding greatly to our understanding of the interplay between science, society, and culture. Along the way, one original impetus for the then newly emerging discipline—what George Sarton called the perspective “from the point of view of the scientist”—dropped out of fashion. This essay shows, by means of several examples, that reclaiming this interaction between science and history of science yields interesting perspectives and new insights for both science and history of (...)
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  17.  12
    Getting Abstract Mathematical Models in Touch with Nature.Andrea Loettgers - 2007 - Science in Context 20 (1):97.
  18.  37
    Modeling and Experimenting: The Combinatorial Strategy in Synthetic Biology.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - unknown
    In which respects do modeling and experimenting resemble or differ from each other? We explore this question through studying in detail the combinatorial strategy in synthetic biology whereby scientists triangulate experimentation on model organisms, mathematical modeling, and synthetic modeling. We argue that this combinatorial strategy is due to the characteristic constraints of the three epistemic activities. Moreover, our case study shows that in some cases materiality clearly matters, in fact it provides the very rationale of synthetic modeling. We will show (...)
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  19.  18
    Biological Control Variously Materialized: Modeling, Experimentation and Exploration in Multiple Media.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2021 - Perspectives on Science 29 (4):468-492.
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  20.  22
    Synthetic Biology as an Engineering Science? Analogical Reasoning, Synthetic Modeling, and Integration.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2013 - In Hanne Andersen, Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao González, Thomas Uebel & Gregory Wheeler (eds.), New Challenges to Philosophy of Science. Springer Verlag. pp. 163--177.
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  21. Modeling/Experimentation: The Synthetic Strategy in the Study of Genetic Circuits.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2018 - In Isabelle Peschard & Bas C. Van Fraassen (eds.), The Experimental Side of Modeling. pp. 118-147.
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  22.  22
    Synthetic Modeling and the Functional Role of Noise.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - unknown
    In synthetic biology the use of engineering metaphors to describe biological organisms and their behavior has become a common practice. The concept of noise provides one of the most compelling examples of such transfer. But this notion is also confusing: While in engineering noise is a destructive force perturbing artificial systems, in synthetic biology it has acquired an additional functional meaning. It has been found out that noise is an important factor in driving biological processes such as gene regulation, development, (...)
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