Causality, Teleology, and Thought Experiments in Biology


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Abstract
Thought experiments de facto play many different roles in biology: economical, ethical, technical and so forth. This paper, however, is interested in whether there are any distinctive features of biological TEs as such. The question may be settled in the affirmative because TEs in biology have a function that is intimately connected with the epistemological and methodological status of biology. Peculiar to TEs in biology is the fact that the reflexive, typically human concept of finality may be profitably employed to discover mechanical-experimental causal relations in all living beings—with the obvious caveat that we do not hypostatise and interpret this concept as an ontological quality, since this would land one in an implicitly animistic, pre-Galilean view of nature. From a methodical point of view, the concept of finality is an essential assumption as well as a powerful heuristic tool in the practice of biology, that is, in the investigation of living beings in an intersubjectively testable and reproducible way
Keywords Thought experiment in biology  Teleology  Experiment  Mechanism
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DOI 10.1007/s10838-015-9293-9
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation.Stuart Glennan - 2002 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S342-353.
Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation.Stuart Glennan - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (S3):S342-S353.

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Citations of this work BETA

Thought Experiments: State of the Art.Michael T. Stuart, Yiftach Fehige & James R. Brown - 2018 - In Michael T. Stuart, Yiftach J. H. Fehige & James Robert Brown (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 1-28.

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