Approximations, Idealizations and 'Experiments' at the Physics-Biology Interface


Authors
Darrell P. Rowbottom
Lingnan University
Abstract
This paper, which is based on recent empirical research at the University of Leeds, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Bristol, presents two difficulties which arise when condensed matter physicists interact with molecular biologists: (1) the former use models which appear to be too coarse-grained, approximate and/or idealized to serve a useful scientific purpose to the latter; and (2) the latter have a rather narrower view of what counts as an experiment, particularly when it comes to computer simulations, than the former. It argues that these findings are related; that computer simulations are considered to be undeserving of experimental status, by molecular biologists, precisely because of the idealizations and approximations that they involve. The complexity of biological systems is a key factor. The paper concludes by critically examining whether the new research programme of ‘systems biology’ offers a genuine alternative to the modelling strategies used by physicists. It argues that it does not.
Keywords Models  Simulations  Complexity  Systems biology  Condensed matter physics  Molecular biology
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2011
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2010.11.021
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 44,293
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Simulations, Models, and Theories: Complex Physical Systems and Their Representations.Eric Winsberg - 2001 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S442-.
Models and Representation.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2017 - In Lorenzo Magnani & Tommaso Bertolotti (eds.). pp. 49-102.
The Century Beyond the Gene.E. Keller - 2013 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 4 (1):217-234.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Calculating Life? Duelling Discourses in Interdisciplinary Systems Biology.Jane Calvert & Joan H. Fujimura - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (2):155-163.
Aimless Science.Darrell Patrick Rowbottom - 2014 - Synthese 191 (6):1211-1221.
Calculating Life? Duelling Discourses in Interdisciplinary Systems Biology.Jane Calvert & Joan H. Fujimura - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (2):155-163.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Metaphysics Within Chemical Physics: The Case of Ab Initio Molecular Dynamics. [REVIEW]Carsten Seck - 2012 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 43 (2):361-375.
Models in Biology.Jay Odenbaugh - 2009 - Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Computer Simulations, Idealizations and Approximations.Ronald Laymon - 1990 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:519 - 534.
Naturalists, Molecular Biologists, and the Challenges of Molecular Evolution.Joel B. Hagen - 1999 - Journal of the History of Biology 32 (2):321 - 341.
Philosophy of Experimental Biology.Jacob Stegenga - 2009 - Erkenntnis 71 (3):431-436.
National Politics and International Trends: EMBO and the Making of Molecular Biology in Spain (1960-1975).J. M. - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 33 (3):473-487.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2011-03-08

Total views
203 ( #35,714 of 2,270,963 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #575,015 of 2,270,963 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature