Authors
Tarja Knuuttila
University of Vienna
Andrea Loettgers
University of Vienna
Abstract
Synthetic biology is often understood in terms of the pursuit for well-characterized biological parts to create synthetic wholes. Accordingly, it has typically been conceived of as an engineering dominated and application oriented field. We argue that the relationship of synthetic biology to engineering is far more nuanced than that and involves a sophisticated epistemic dimension, as shown by the recent practice of synthetic modeling. Synthetic models are engineered genetic networks that are implanted in a natural cell environment. Their construction is typically combined with experiments on model organisms as well as mathematical modeling and simulation. What is especially interesting about this combinational modeling practice is that, apart from greater integration between these different epistemic activities, it has also led to the questioning of some central assumptions and notions on which synthetic biology is based. As a result synthetic biology is in the process of becoming more “biology inspired.”
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.03.011
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References found in this work BETA

Modelling and Representing: An Artefactual Approach to Model-Based Representation.Tarja Knuuttila - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):262-271.
Mechanism and Biological Explanation.William Bechtel - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (4):533-557.
The Roles of Integration in Molecular Systems Biology.Maureen A. O’Malley & Orkun S. Soyer - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):58-68.
Simulated Experiments: Methodology for a Virtual World.Winsberg Eric - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (1):105-125.

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Citations of this work BETA

Modelling as Indirect Representation? The Lotka–Volterra Model Revisited.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (4):1007-1036.
When One Model is Not Enough: Combining Epistemic Tools in Systems Biology.Sara Green - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (2):170-180.
Can Biological Complexity Be Reverse Engineered?Sara Green - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 53:73-83.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

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Synthetic Biology as an Engineering Science? Analogical Reasoning, Synthetic Modeling, and Integration.Tarja Knuuttila & Andrea Loettgers - 2013 - In Hanne Andersen, Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao González, Thomas Uebel & Gregory Wheeler (eds.), New Challenges to Philosophy of Science. Springer Verlag. pp. 163--177.
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