Hypothesis-driven science in large-scale studies: the case of GWAS

Biology and Philosophy 36 (5):1-21 (2021)


It is now well-appreciated by philosophers that contemporary large-scale ‘-omics’ studies in biology stand in non-trivial relationships to more orthodox hypothesis-driven approaches. These relationships have been clarified by Ratti ; however, there remains much more to be said regarding how an important field of genomics cited in that work—‘genome-wide association studies’ —fits into this framework. In the present article, we propose a revision to Ratti’s framework more suited to studies such as GWAS. In the process of doing so, we introduce to the philosophical literature novel exploratory experiments in proteomics, and demonstrate how these experiments interplay with the above considerations.

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James Read
University of California, Santa Cruz

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