Experimental complexity in biology: Some epistemological and historical remarks

Philosophy of Science 64 (4):254 (1997)
My paper draws on examples from molecular biology, the details of which I have developed elsewhere (Rheinberger 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997). Here, I can give only a brief outline of my argument. Reduction of complexity is a prerequisite for experimental research. To make sense of the universe of living beings, the modern biologist is bound to divide his world into fragments in which parameters can be defined, quantities measured, qualities identified. Such is the nature of any "experimental system." Ontic complexity has to be reduced in order to make experimental research possible. The complexity of the research object, however, is epistemically retained in the rich context of an experimental landscape, where the eruption of "volcanic systems" can change the scenery dramatically as the result of particular, unprecedented findings
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DOI 10.1086/392604
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Charles T. Wolfe (2014). The Organism as Ontological Go-Between. Hybridity, Boundaries and Degrees of Reality in its Conceptual History. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 1:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shps.
Tudor M. Baetu (2014). Models and the Mosaic of Scientific Knowledge. The Case of Immunology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1):49-56.
T. M. Baetu (2016). The ‘Big Picture’: The Problem of Extrapolation in Basic Research. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (4):941-964.
Kjetil Rommetveit (2008). Towards a Hermeneutic of Technomedical Objects. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 29 (2):103-120.

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