David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (4):619-658 (2008)
In this paper, I discuss the discovery of the DNA structure by Francis Crick and James Watson, which has provoked a large historical literature but has yet not found entry into philosophical debates. I want to redress this imbalance. In contrast to the available historical literature, a strong emphasis will be placed upon analysing the roles played by theory, model, and evidence and the relationship between them. In particular, I am going to discuss not only Crick and Watson's well-known model and Franklin's x-ray diffraction pictures (the evidence) but also the less well known theory of helical diffraction, which was absolutely crucial to Crick and Watson's discovery. The insights into this groundbreaking historical episode will have consequences for the new received view of scientific models and their function and relationship to theory and world. The received view, dominated by works by Cartwright and Morgan and Morrison (), rather than trying to put forth a theory of models, is interested in questions to do with (i) the function of models in scientific practice and (ii) the construction of models. In regard to (i), the received view locates the model (as an idealized, simplified version of the real system under investigation) between theory and the world and sees the model as allowing the application of the former to the latter. As to (ii) Cartwright has argued for a phenomenologically driven view and Morgan and Morrison () for the autonomy of models in the construction process: models are determined neither by theory nor by the world. The present case study of the discovery of the DNA structure strongly challenges both (i) and (ii). In contrast to claim (i) of the received view, it was not Crick and Watson's model but rather the helical diffraction theory which served a mediating purpose between the model and the x-ray diffraction pictures. In particular, Cartwright's take on (ii) is refuted by a comparison of Franklin's bottom-up approach with Crick and Watson's top-down approach in constructing the model. The former led to difficulties, which only a strong confidence in the structure incorporated in the model could circumvent. How to Get to the Structure 1.1 X-ray diffraction and its synthesis 1.2 Model building and Pauling's panache 1.3 The structure of proteins 1.3.1 A failed inference to the best explanation 1.3.2 The misleading 5.1 Å spot in proteins and how to get rid of it 1.3.3 Derived predictions from Pauling's alpha-helix of protein molecules The CCV Theory of Helical X-Ray Diffraction 2.1 The role of the CCV theory in the discovery of the DNA structure Killing the Helix 3.1 Appreciating all evidence—in vain Conclusion Epilogue: Chargaff's Ratios CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
|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
James Bogen & James Woodward (1988). Saving the Phenomena. Philosophical Review 97 (3):303-352.
S. French & J. Ladyman (1997). Superconductivity and Structures: Revisiting the London Account. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 28 (3):363-393.
Ronald N. Giere (2004). How Models Are Used to Represent Reality. Philosophy of Science 71 (5):742-752.
Michela Massimi (2007). Saving Unobservable Phenomena. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):235 - 262.
John D. Norton (2003). A Material Theory of Induction. Philosophy of Science 70 (4):647-670.
Citations of this work BETA
Samuel Schindler (2013). Theory-Laden Experimentation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (1):89-.
Samuel Schindler (2011). Bogen and Woodward's Data-Phenomena Distinction, Forms of Theory-Ladenness, and the Reliability of Data. Synthese 182 (1):39-55.
Jacob Stegenga (2013). Evidence in Biology and the Conditions of Success. Biology and Philosophy 28 (6):981-1004.
Similar books and articles
Stephan Hartmann & Roman Frigg (2006). Models in Science. In Ed Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford.
Stephan Hartmann (1995). Models as a Tool for Theory Construction: Some Strategies of Preliminary Physics. In William Herfel et al (ed.), Theories and Models in Scientific Processes. Rodopi.
Thomas J. Dohmen (2002). Building and Using Economic Models: A Case Study Analysis of the IS-LL Model. Journal of Economic Methodology 9 (2):191-212.
Till Grüne‐Yanoff & Paul Schweinzer (2008). The Roles of Stories in Applying Game Theory. Journal of Economic Methodology 15 (2):131-146.
Ulrich Krohs (2009). Structure and Coherence of Two-Model-Descriptions of Technical Artefacts. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 13 (2):150-161.
Demetris P. Portides (2005). Scientific Models and the Semantic View of Scientific Theories. Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1287-1298.
Demetris Portides (2011). Seeking Representations of Phenomena: Phenomenological Models. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2):334-341.
Mary S. Morgan (2001). Models, Stories and the Economic World. Journal of Economic Methodology 8 (3):361-384.
Lars Hansen (2004). Formalized Token Models and Duality in Semantics: An Algebraic Approach. Journal of Symbolic Logic 69 (2):443 - 477.
Margaret Morrison (2007). Where Have All the Theories Gone? Philosophy of Science 74 (2):195-228.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads26 ( #79,354 of 1,692,196 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #184,284 of 1,692,196 )
How can I increase my downloads?