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Profile: Marcel Weber (University of Geneva)
  1. Marcel Weber, Causal Selection Versus Causal Parity in Biology: Relevant Counterfactuals and Biologically Normal Interventions.
    Causal selection is the task of picking out, from a field of known causally relevant factors, some factors as the actual causes of an event or class of events or the causes that "make the difference". The Causal Parity Thesis in the philosophy of biology is basically the claim that there are no grounds for such a selection. The main target of this thesis is usually gene centrism, the doctrine that genes play some special role in ontogeny, which is often (...)
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  2. Marcel Weber, On the Incompatibility of Biological Dynamical Mechanisms and Causal Graph Theory.
    I examine the adequacy of the causal graph-structural equations approach to causation for modeling biological mechanisms. I focus in particular on mechanisms with complex dynamics such as the PER biological clock mechanism in Drosophila. I show that a quantitative model of this mechanism that uses coupled differential equations – the well-known Goldbeter model – cannot be adequately represented in the standard (interventionist) causal graph framework, even though this framework does permit causal cycles. The reason is that the model contains dynamical (...)
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  3. Stephan Hartmann, Marcel Weber, Wenceslao Gonzalez, Dennis Dieks & Thomas Uebe (eds.) (forthcoming). Explanation, Prediction, and Confirmation: New Trends and Old Ones Reconsidered. Springer.
  4. Marcel Weber (forthcoming). Experimental Modeling in Biology: In Vivo Representation and Stand-Ins As Modeling Strategies. Philosophy of Science.
    Experimental modeling in biology involves the use of living organisms (not necessarily so-called "model organisms") in order to model or simulate biological processes. I argue here that experimental modeling is a bona fide form of scientific modeling that plays an epistemic role that is distinct from that of ordinary biological experiments. What distinguishes them from ordinary experiments is that they use what I call "in vivo representations" where one kind of causal process is used to stand in for a physically (...)
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  5. Marcel Weber, Reference, Truth, and Biological Kinds. In: J. Dutant, D. Fassio and A. Meylan (Eds.) Liber Amicorum Pascal Engel.
    This paper examines causal theories of reference with respect to how plausible an account they give of non-physical natural kind terms such as ‘gene’ as well as of the truth of the associated theoretical claims. I first show that reference fixism for ‘gene’ fails. By this, I mean the claim that the reference of ‘gene’ was stable over longer historical periods, for example, since the classical period of transmission genetics. Second, I show that the theory of partial reference does not (...)
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  6. Marcel Weber, Experiment in Biology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  7. Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao Gonzalo, Thomas Uebel, Stephan Hartmann & Marcel Weber (eds.) (2011). Explanation, Prediction, and Confirmation. Springer.
    This volume, the second in the Springer series Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective, contains selected papers from the workshops organised by the ESF ...
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  8. Hans Bernhard Schmid, Daniel Sirtes & Marcel Weber (eds.) (2011). Collective Epistemology. Ontos.
    The aim of this volume is to examine this claim, and to place it in the wider context of recent epistemological debates about the role of sociality in knowledge acquisition.
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  9. Marcel Weber (2011). Experimentation Versus Theory Choice: A Social-Epistemological Approach. In Hans Bernhard Schmid, Daniel Sirtes & Marcel Weber (eds.), Collective Epistemology. Ontos. 20--203.
  10. Thomas Uebel, Stephan Hartmann, Wenceslao Gonzalez, Marcel Weber, Dennis Dieks & Friedrich Stadler (eds.) (2010). The Present Situation in the Philosophy of Science. Springer.
    This volume is a serious attempt to open up the subject of European philosophy of science to real thought, and provide the structural basis for the ...
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  11. Marcel Weber (2010). Life in a Physical World: The Place of the Life Sciences. In F. Stadler, D. Dieks, W. Gonzales, S. Hartmann, T. Uebel & M. Weber (eds.), The Present Situation in the Philosophy of Science. Springer. 155--168.
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  12. Marcel Weber (2009). The Crux of Crucial Experiments: Duhem's Problems and Inference to the Best Explanation. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (1):19-49.
    Going back at least to Duhem, there is a tradition of thinking that crucial experiments are impossible in science. I analyse Duhem's arguments and show that they are based on the excessively strong assumption that only deductive reasoning is permissible in experimental science. This opens the possibility that some principle of inductive inference could provide a sufficient reason for preferring one among a group of hypotheses on the basis of an appropriately controlled experiment. To be sure, there are analogues to (...)
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  13. Marcel Weber, Behavioral Traits, the Intentional Stance, and Biological Functions.
    It has been claimed that the intentional stance is necessary to individuate behavioral traits. This thesis, while clearly false, points to two interesting sets of problems concerning biological explanations of behavior: The first is a general in the philosophy of science: the theory-ladenness of observation. The second problem concerns the principles of trait individuation, which is a general problem in philosophy of biology. After discussing some alternatives, I show that one way of individuating the behavioral traits of an organism is (...)
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  14. Marcel Weber (2008). Critical Notice: Darwinian Reductionism. Biology and Philosophy 23 (1):143-152.
  15. Marcel Weber (2008). Causes Without Mechanisms: Experimental Regularities, Physical Laws, and Neuroscientific Explanation. Philosophy of Science 75 (5):995-1007.
    This article examines the role of experimental generalizations and physical laws in neuroscientific explanations, using Hodgkin and Huxley’s electrophysiological model from 1952 as a test case. I show that the fact that the model was partly fitted to experimental data did not affect its explanatory status, nor did the false mechanistic assumptions made by Hodgkin and Huxley. The model satisfies two important criteria of explanatory status: it contains invariant generalizations and it is modular (both in James Woodward’s sense). Further, I (...)
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  16. Marcel Weber (2008). Rules, Reductionism, and Normativity: A Naturalistic Rejoinder. In Sven Walter & Helen Bohse (eds.), GAP.6: Selected Papers Contributed to the Sections of the Sixth International Congress of the German Society for Analytic Philosophy.
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  17. Marcel Weber, The Crux of Crucial Experiments: Confirmation in Molecular Biology.
    I defend the view that single experiments can provide a sufficient reason for preferring one among a group of hypotheses against the widely held belief that “crucial experiments” are impossible. My argument is based on the examination of a historical case from molecular biology, namely the Meselson-Stahl experiment. “The most beautiful experiment in biology”, as it is known, provided the first experimental evidence for the operation of a semi-conservative mechanism of DNA replication, as predicted by Watson and Crick in 1953. (...)
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  18. Martin Reinhart & Marcel Weber (2006). The Nature of Scientific Evidence: Statistical, Philosophical, and Empirical Considerations (Review). Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 49 (2):305-308.
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  19. Marcel Weber (2006). The Central Dogma as a Thesis of Causal Specificity. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 28 (4):595-610.
    I present a reconstruction of F.H.C. Crick's two 1957 hypotheses "Sequence Hypothesis" and "Central Dogma" in terms of a contemporary philosophical theory of causation. Analyzing in particular the experimental evidence that Crick cited, I argue that these hypotheses can be understood as claims about the actual difference-making cause in protein synthesis. As these hypotheses are only true if restricted to certain nucleic acids in certain organisms, I then examine the concept of causal specificity and its potential to counter claims about (...)
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  20. Marcel Weber (2005). Über die Vergleichbarkeit metaphysischer Systeme: Der Fall Leibniz kontra Locke. Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 59 (2):202 - 222.
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  21. Marcel Weber (2005). Genes, Causation and Intentionality. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 27 (3/4):399-411.
    I want to exhibit the deeper metaphysical reasons why some common ways of describing the causal role of genes in development and evolution are problematic. Specifically, I show why using the concept of information in an intentional sense in genetics is inappropriate, even given a naturalistic account of intentionality. Furthermore, I argue that descriptions that use notions such as programming, directing or orchestrating are problematic not for empirical reasons, but because they are not strictly causal. They are intentional. By contrast, (...)
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  22. Marcel Weber (2005). Indeterminism in Neurobiology. Philosophy of Science 72 (5):663-674.
    I examine different arguments that could be used to establish indeterminism of neurological processes. Even though scenarios where single events at the molecular level make the difference in the outcome of such processes are realistic, this falls short of establishing indeterminism, because it is not clear that these molecular events are subject to quantum mechanical uncertainty. Furthermore, attempts to argue for indeterminism autonomously (i.e., independently of quantum mechanics) fail, because both deterministic and indeterministic models can account for the empirically observed (...)
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  23. Marcel Weber (2005). Philosophy of Experimental Biology. Cambridge University Press.
    Exploring central philosophical issues concerning scientific research in modern experimental biology, this book clarifies the strategies, concepts, reasoning, approaches, tools, models and experimental systems deployed by researchers. It also integrates recent developments in historical scholarship, in particular, the New Experimentalism, making this work of interest to philosophers and historians of science as well as to biological researchers.
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  24. Marcel Weber (2005). Review of Robert A. Wilson, Genes and the Agents of Life: The Individual in the Fragile Sciences: Biology. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2005 (12).
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  25. Marcel Weber, Warren Schmaus, Heather A. Jamniczky, Gry Oftedal, Robert C. Bishop, Axel Gelfert, Mathias Frisch, Daniel Parker, Mario Castagnino & Olimpia Lombardi (2005). 1. Preface Preface (Pp. I-Ii). Philosophy of Science 72 (5).
     
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  26. Marcel Weber, Indeterminism in Neurobiology: Some Good and Some Bad News.
    I examine some philosophical arguments as well as current empirical research in molecular neurobiology in order to throw some new light on the question of whether neurological processes are deterministic or indeterministic. I begin by showing that the idea of an autonomous biological indeterminism violates the principle of the supervenience of biological properties on physical properties. If supervenience is accepted, quantum mechanics is the only hope for the neuro-indeterminist. But this would require that indeterministic quantum-mechanical effects play a role in (...)
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  27. F. G. Riffert & Marcel Weber (eds.) (2002). Searching for New Contrasts. Vienna: Peter Lang.
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  28. Marcel Weber (2002). Theory Testing in Experimental Biology: The Chemiosmotic Mechanism of ATP Synthesis. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 33 (1):29-52.
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  29. Marcel Weber (2002). Incommensurability and Theory Comparison in Experimental Biology. Biology and Philosophy 17 (2):155-169.
    Incommensurability of scientific theories, as conceived by Thomas Kuhnand Paul Feyerabend, is thought to be a major or even insurmountable obstacletothe empirical comparison of these theories. I examine this problem in light ofaconcrete case from the history of experimental biology, namely the oxidativephosphorylation controversy in biochemistry (ca. 1961-1977). After a briefhistorical exposition, I show that the two main competing theories which werethe subject of the ox-phos controversy instantiate some of the characteristicfeatures of incommensurable theories, namely translation failure,non-corresponding predictions, and different (...)
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  30. Marcel Weber (2001). Determinism, Realism, and Probability in Evolutionary Theory. Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S213-.
    Recent discussion of the statistical character of evolutionary theory has centered around two positions: (1) Determinism combined with the claim that the statistical character is eliminable, a subjective interpretation of probability, and instrumentalism; (2) Indeterminism combined with the claim that the statistical character is ineliminable, a propensity interpretation of probability, and realism. I point out some internal problems in these positions and show that the relationship between determinism, eliminability, realism, and the interpretation of probability is more complex than previously assumed (...)
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  31. Marcel Weber (2001). Jane Maienschein and Michael Ruse, Biology and the Foundation of Ethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 4 (1):79-82.
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  32. Marcel Weber (2001). Under the Lamppost. In MachamerPeter (ed.), Theory and Method in the Neurosciences. 231.
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  33. Marcel Weber (1999). Hans Drieschs argumente für den Vitalismus. Philosophia Naturalis 36 (2):263-293.
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  34. Marcel Weber (1999). The Aim and Structure of Ecological Theory. Philosophy of Science 66 (1):71-93.
    I present an attempt at an explication of the ecological theory of interspecific competition, including its explanatory role in community ecology and evolutionary biology. The account given is based on the idea that law-like statements play an important role in scientific theories of this kind. I suggest that the principle of competitive exclusion is such a law, and that it is evolutionarily invariant. The principle's empirical status is defended and implications for the ongoing debates on the existence of biological laws (...)
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  35. Marcel Weber (1998). Representing Genes: Classical Mapping Techniques and the Growth of Genetical Knowledge. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 29 (2):295-315.
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  36. Marcel Weber (1996). Evolutionary Plasticity in Prokaryotes: A Panglossian View. Biology and Philosophy 11 (1):67-88.
    Enzyme directed genetic mechanisms causing random DNA sequence alterations are ubiquitous in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes. A number of molecular geneticist have invoked adaptation through natural selection to account for this fact, however, alternative explanations have also flourished. The population geneticist G.C. Williams has dismissed the possibility of selection for mutator activity on a priori grounds. In this paper, I attempt a refutation of Williams' argument. In addition, I discuss some conceptual problems related to recent claims made by microbiologists on (...)
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  37. Marcel Weber (1996). Fitness Made Physical: The Supervenience of Biological Concepts Revisited. Philosophy of Science 63 (3):411-431.
    The supervenience and multiple realizability of biological properties have been invoked to support a disunified picture of the biological sciences. I argue that supervenience does not capture the relation between fitness and an organism's physical properties. The actual relation is one of causal dependence and is, therefore, amenable to causal explanation. A case from optimality theory is presented and interpreted as a microreductive explanation of fitness difference. Such microreductions can have considerable scope. Implications are discussed for reductive physicalism in evolutionary (...)
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