David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (2):145-154 (2011)
This paper, which is based on recent empirical research at the University of Leeds, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Bristol, presents two difficulties which arise when condensed matter physicists interact with molecular biologists: (1) the former use models which appear to be too coarse-grained, approximate and/or idealized to serve a useful scientific purpose to the latter; and (2) the latter have a rather narrower view of what counts as an experiment, particularly when it comes to computer simulations, than the former. It argues that these findings are related; that computer simulations are considered to be undeserving of experimental status, by molecular biologists, precisely because of the idealizations and approximations that they involve. The complexity of biological systems is a key factor. The paper concludes by critically examining whether the new research programme of ‘systems biology’ offers a genuine alternative to the modelling strategies used by physicists. It argues that it does not.
|Keywords||Models Simulations Complexity Systems biology Condensed matter physics Molecular biology|
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Citations of this work BETA
Darrell P. Rowbottom (2013). Kuhn Vs. Popper on Criticism and Dogmatism in Science, Part II: How to Strike the Balance. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (2):161-168.
Jane Calvert & Joan H. Fujimura (2011). Calculating Life? Duelling Discourses in Interdisciplinary Systems Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (2):155-163.
Otávio Bueno (2011). When Physics and Biology Meet: The Nanoscale Case. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (2):180-189.
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