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Abstract
What has been called the new mechanistic philosophy conceives of mechanisms as the main providers of biological explanation. We draw on the characterization of the p53 gene in molecular oncology, to show that explaining a biological phenomenon implies instead a dynamic interaction between the mechanistic level—rendered at the appropriate degree of ontological resolution—and far more general explanatory tools that perform a fundamental epistemic role in the provision of biological explanations. We call such tools “explanatory frameworks”. They are called frameworks to stress their higher level of generality with respect to bare mechanisms; on the other hand, they are called explanatory because, as we show in this paper, their importance in explaining biological phenomena is not secondary with respect to mechanisms. We illustrate how explanatory frameworks establish selective and local criteria of causal relevance that drive the search for, characterisation and usage of biological mechanisms. Furthermore, we show that explanatory frameworks allow for changes of scientific perspective on the causal relevance of mechanisms going beyond the account provided by the new mechanistic philosophy
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.02.001
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Explanation: A Mechanist Alternative.William Bechtel - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biol and Biomed Sci 36 (2):421--441.
Causal Explanation.David K. Lewis - 1986 - In David Lewis (ed.), Philosophical Papers Vol. Ii. Oxford University Press. pp. 214-240.
Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation.Stuart Glennan - 2002 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S342-353.

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Citations of this work BETA

Models and the Mosaic of Scientific Knowledge. The Case of Immunology.Tudor M. Baetu - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1):49-56.
From Replica to Instruments: Animal Models in Biomedical Research.Pierre-Luc Germain - 2014 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 36 (1):114-128.

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