Biology and Philosophy 6 (2):155-180 (1991)

Authors
James Griesemer
University of California, Davis
Abstract
Scientists use a variety of modes of representation in their work, but philosophers have studied mainly sentences expressing propositions. I ask whether diagrams are mere conveniences in expressing propositions or whether they are a distinct, ineliminable mode of representation in scientific texts. The case of path analysis, a statistical method for quantitatively assessing the relative degree of causal determination of variation as expressed in a causal path diagram, is discussed. Path analysis presents a worst case for arguments against eliminability since path diagrams are usually presumed to be mathematically or logically “equivalent” in an important sense to sets of linear path equations. I argue that path diagrams are strongly generative, i.e., that they add analytical power to path analysis beyond what is supplied by linear equations, and therefore that they are ineliminable in a strong scientific sense.
Keywords Path analysis  regression  scientific diagrams  Sewall Wright  statistics in biology
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DOI 10.1007/BF02426836
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References found in this work BETA

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory.Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem - 1954 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Theories.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Parts and Theories in Compositional Biology.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2006 - Biology and Philosophy 21 (4):471-499.
Causal Explanation and the Periodic Table.Lauren N. Ross - forthcoming - Synthese 198 (1):79-103.
Data Graphs and Mechanistic Explanation.Daniel C. Burnston - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 57:1-12.

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