Model organisms as models: Understanding the 'lingua Franca' of the human genome project

Through an examination of the actual research strategies and assumptions underlying the Human Genome Project (HGP), it is argued that the epistemic basis of the initial model organism programs is not best understood as reasoning via causal analog models (CAMs). In order to answer a series of questions about what is being modeled and what claims about the models are warranted, a descriptive epistemological method is employed that uses historical techniques to develop detailed accounts which, in turn, help to reveal forms of reasoning that are explicit, or more often implicit, in the practice of a particular field of scientific study. It is suggested that a more valid characterization of the reasoning structure at work here is a form of case-based reasoning. This conceptualization of the role of model organisms can guide our understanding and assessment of these research programs, their knowledge claims and progress, and their limitations, as well as how we educate the public about this type of biomedical research
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Rachel A. Ankeny & Sabina Leonelli (2011). What's so Special About Model Organisms? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):313-323.
Jason Scott Robert (2008). The Comparative Biology of Human Nature. Philosophical Psychology 21 (3):425 – 436.
Ulrich Krohs (2012). Convenience Experimentation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):52-57.

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