Material Models in Biology

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:79 - 93 (1990)
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Abstract

Propositions alone are not constitutive of science. But is the "non-propositional" side of science theoretically superfluous: must philosophy of science consider it in order to adequately account for science? I explore the boundary between the propositional and non-propositional sides of biological theory, drawing on three cases: Grinnell's remnant models of faunas, Wright's path analysis, and Weismannism's role in the generalization of evolutionary theory. I propose a picture of material model-building in biology in which manipulated systems of material objects function as theoretical models. In each of the cases, material systems such as diagrams play important generative as well as presentational roles.

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James Griesemer
University of California, Davis

Citations of this work

The strategy of model-based science.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2006 - Biology and Philosophy 21 (5):725-740.
What’s so special about model organisms?Rachel A. Ankeny & Sabina Leonelli - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):313-323.
When scientific models represent.Daniela M. Bailer-Jones - 2003 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (1):59 – 74.

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