David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):257-269 (2005)
Molecular biologists and biochemists often use diagrams to present hypotheses. Analysis of diagrams shows that their content can be expressed with linguistic representations. Why do biologists use visual representations instead? One reason is simple comprehensibility: some diagrams present information which is readily understood from the diagram format, but which would not be comprehensible if the same information was expressed linguistically. But often diagrams are used even when concise, comprehensible linguistic alternatives are available. I explain this phenomenon by showing why diagrammatic representation is especially well suited for a particular kind of explanation common in molecular biology and biochemistry: namely, functional analysis, in which a capacity of the system is explained in terms of capacities of its component parts.
|Keywords||Cummins Diagram Explanation Functional analysis Linguistic Symbol Visual representation|
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Wesley Salmon (1984). Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World. Princeton University Press.
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Citations of this work BETA
Adina L. Roskies (2008). Neuroimaging and Inferential Distance. Neuroethics 1 (1):19-30.
Nicholaos Jones (2014). Bowtie Structures, Pathway Diagrams, and Topological Explanation. Erkenntnis 79 (5):1135-1155.
Benjamin Sheredos, Daniel Burnston, Adele Abrahamsen & William Bechtel (2013). Why Do Biologists Use So Many Diagrams? Philosophy of Science 80 (5):931-944.
Richard Heersmink (forthcoming). The Cognitive Integration of Scientific Instruments: Information, Situated Cognition and Scientific Practice. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-21.
Nicholaos Jones & Olaf Wolkenhauer (2012). Diagrams as Locality Aids for Explanation and Model Construction in Cell Biology. Biology and Philosophy 27 (5):705-721.
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