Thinking Dynamically About Biological Mechanisms: Networks of Coupled Oscillators [Book Review]

Foundations of Science 18 (4):707-723 (2013)
Abstract
Explaining the complex dynamics exhibited in many biological mechanisms requires extending the recent philosophical treatment of mechanisms that emphasizes sequences of operations. To understand how nonsequentially organized mechanisms will behave, scientists often advance what we call dynamic mechanistic explanations. These begin with a decomposition of the mechanism into component parts and operations, using a variety of laboratory-based strategies. Crucially, the mechanism is then recomposed by means of computational models in which variables or terms in differential equations correspond to properties of its parts and operations. We provide two illustrations drawn from research on circadian rhythms. Once biologists identified some of the components of the molecular mechanism thought to be responsible for circadian rhythms, computational models were used to determine whether the proposed mechanisms could generate sustained oscillations. Modeling has become even more important as researchers have recognized that the oscillations generated in individual neurons are synchronized within networks; we describe models being employed to assess how different possible network architectures could produce the observed synchronized activity.
Keywords Dynamic mechanistic explanation  Circadian rhythms  Computational modeling  Endogenously active mechanisms  Mechanistic explanation  Oscillatory mechanisms  Recomposing mechanisms
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10699-012-9301-z
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 19,625
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
William Bechtel (2005). Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol and Biomed Sci 36 (2):421--441.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
William Bechtel (2015). Can Mechanistic Explanation Be Reconciled with Scale-Free Constitution and Dynamics? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 53:84-93.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
William Bechtel (2010). The Cell: Locus or Object of Inquiry? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 41 (3):172-182.
M. Kuhlmann (2011). Mechanisms in Dynamically Complex Systems. In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. OUP Oxford

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2011-05-14

Total downloads

195 ( #13,647 of 1,789,835 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

18 ( #44,360 of 1,789,835 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.