The case for multiple realization in biology

Biology and Philosophy 33 (1-2):3 (2018)
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Polger and Shapiro argue that their official recipe, a criterion for judging when the phenomenon of multiple realization exists, renders MR less widespread than its proponents have assumed. I argue that, although Polger and Shapiro’s criterion is a useful contribution, they arrive at their conclusion too hastily. Contrary to Polger and Shapiro, I claim that the phenomenon of multiple realization in the biological world, judged by their criterion, is not as scarce as they suggest. To show this, an updated official recipe, namely a multiple mechanistic realization thesis, integrating Polger and Shapiro’s criterion with a compositional conception of realization, is developed. Then, three examples of varied kinds are examined, showing that cases of MR are not so hard to find in the biological world.

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Wesley Fang
Shanxi University

Citations of this work

Where Do You Get Your Protein? Or: Biochemical Realization.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (3):799-825.
Multiple Realization in Systems Biology.Wei Fang - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (4):663-684.

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