David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):57 – 73 (2007)
In recent cancer research, strong and apparently conflicting epistemological stances have been advocated by different research teams in a mist of an ever-growing body of knowledge ignited by ever-more perplexing and non-conclusive experimental facts: in the past few years, an 'organicist' approach investigating cancer development at the tissue level has challenged the established and so-called 'reductionist' approach focusing on disentangling the genetic and molecular circuitry of carcinogenesis. This article reviews the ways in which 'organicism' and 'reductionism' are used and opposed in this context, with an aim at clarifying the debate. Methodological, epistemological and ontological implications of both approaches are discussed. We argue that the 'organicist/reductionist' opposition in the present case of carcinogenesis is more a matter of diverging heuristics than a claim about theoretical or ontological (ir)reducibility. As a matter of fact, except for the downward causation claim, which we question, we argue that the organicist arguments are compatible with the reductionist approach. Moreover, we speculate that both approaches, which currently focus on specific entities i.e., genes versus tissues, will need to shift their conceptual frameworks to studying complex arrays of relationships potentially ranging over several levels of entities, as is the case with 'systems biology'.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Anya Plutynski (2013). Cancer and the Goals of Integration. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C (4):466-476.
Similar books and articles
Daniel Steel (2004). Can a Reductionist Be a Pluralist? Biology and Philosophy 19 (1):55-73.
A. M. Soto & C. Sonnenschein (2006). Emergentism by Default: A View From the Bench. [REVIEW] Synthese 151 (3):361-376.
Paolo Vineis (1993). Definition and Classification of Cancer: Monothetic or Polythetic? Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 14 (3).
Don Marquis (1989). An Ethical Problem Concerning Recent Therapeutic Research on Breast Cancer. Hypatia 4 (2):140 - 155.
Susan Gilbert (2010). Personalized Cancer Care in an Age of Anxiety. Hastings Center Report 40 (5):18-21.
Andrew Melnyk (1995). Two Cheers for Reductionism, or, the Dim Prospects for Nonreductive Materialism. Philosophy of Science 62 (3):370-88.
David W. Shoemaker (2002). The Irrelevance/Incoherence of Non-Reductionism About Personal Identity. Philo 5 (2):143-160.
Robert N. Brandon (1984). Grene on Mechanism and Reductionism: More Than Just a Side Issue. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1984:345 - 353.
James A. Marcum (2005). Metaphysical Presuppositions and Scientific Practices: Reductionism and Organicism in Cancer Research. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (1):31 – 45.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads21 ( #88,296 of 1,140,125 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #147,976 of 1,140,125 )
How can I increase my downloads?