Metaphysical presuppositions and scientific practices: Reductionism and organicism in cancer research
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 19 (1):31 – 45 (2005)
Metaphysical presuppositions are important for guiding scientific practices and research. The success of twentieth-century biology, for instance, is largely attributable to presupposing that complex biological processes are reducible to elementary components. However, some biologists have challenged the sufficiency of reductionism for investigating complex biological phenomena and have proposed alternative presuppositions like organicism. In this article, contemporary cancer research is used as a case study to explore the importance of metaphysical presuppositions for guiding research. The predominant paradigm directing cancer research is the somatic mutation theory, in which mutated genes are presumed to be ultimately responsible for explaining carcinogenesis. This reductionistic approach to cancer has been criticised recently, and an organistic approach has been proposed. The article concludes with a discussion of the reciprocal interaction of metaphysical presuppositions and scientific practices for investigating cancer's complex nature.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||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
Ana M. Soto & Carlos Sonnenschein (2011). The Tissue Organization Field Theory of Cancer: A Testable Replacement for the Somatic Mutation Theory. Bioessays 33 (5):332-340.
Susie Fisher (2010). Not Beyond Reasonable Doubt: Howard Temin's Provirus Hypothesis Revisited. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 43 (4):661 - 696.
Carlos Sonnenschein & Ana M. Soto (2006). And yet Another Epicycle. Bioessays 28 (1):100-101.
Similar books and articles
Knut Borch-Johnsen, Jørgen H. Olsen & Thorkild I. A. Sørensen (1994). Genes and Family Environment in Familial Clustering of Cancer. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 15 (4).
Alex Rosenberg (2001). Reductionism in a Historical Science. Philosophy of Science 68 (2):135-163.
Rebecca Dresser (2011). Bioethics and Cancer: When the Professional Becomes Personal. Hastings Center Report 41 (6):14-18.
Nicholas Maxwell, Scientific Metaphysics. PhilSci Archive.
A. M. Soto & C. Sonnenschein (2006). Emergentism by Default: A View From the Bench. [REVIEW] Synthese 151 (3):361-376.
Don Marquis (1989). An Ethical Problem Concerning Recent Therapeutic Research on Breast Cancer. Hypatia 4 (2):140 - 155.
Christophe Malaterre (2007). Organicism and Reductionism in Cancer Research: Towards a Systemic Approach. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):57 – 73.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads23 ( #104,456 of 1,696,170 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #333,658 of 1,696,170 )
How can I increase my downloads?