The complexities of modern science are not adequately reflected in many bioethical discussions. This is especially problematic in highly contested cases where there is significant pressure to generate clinical applications fast, as in stem cell research. In those cases a more integrated approach to bioethics, which we call systems bioethics, can provide a useful framework to address ethical and policy issues. Much as systems biology brings together different experimental and methodological approaches in an integrative way, systems bioethics integrates aspects of (...) the history and philosophy of science, social and political theory, and normative analysis with the science in question. In this paper we outline how a careful analysis of the science of stem cell research can help to refocus the discussions related to the clinical applications of stem cells. We show how inaccurate or inadequate scientific assumptions help to create a set of unrealistic expectations and badly inform ethical deliberations and policy development. Systems bioethics offers resources for moving beyond the current impasse. (shrink)
Here we argue that the concept of strategies, as it was introduced into biology by John Maynard Smith, is a prime illustration of the four dimensions of theoretical biology in the post-genomic era. These four dimensions are: data analysis and management, mathematical and computational model building and simulation, concept formation and analysis, and theory integration. We argue that all four dimensions of theoretical biology are crucial to future interactions between theoretical and empirical biologists as well as with philosophers of biology.
This paper argues in defense of theanti-reductionist consensus in the philosophy ofbiology. More specifically, it takes issues with AlexRosenberg's recent challenge of this position. Weargue that the results of modern developmentalgenetics rather than eliminating the need forfunctional kinds in explanations of developmentactually reinforce their importance.
In this paper we argue that an operational organism concept can help to overcome the structural deficiency of mathematical models in biology. In our opinion, the structural deficiency of mathematical models lies mainly in our inability to identify functionally relevant biological characters in biological systems, and not so much in a lack of adequate mathematical representations of biological processes. We argue that the problem of character identification in biological systems is linked to the question of a properly formulated organism concept. (...) Lastly, we demonstrate how a decomposition of an organism into independent characters in the context of a specific biological process--such as adaptation by means of natural selection--depends on the dynamical properties and invariance conditions of the equations that describe this process. (shrink)