Parts and theories in compositional biology

Biology and Philosophy 21 (4):471-499 (2006)

Authors
Rasmus Winther
University of California, Santa Cruz
Abstract
I analyze the importance of parts in the style of biological theorizing that I call compositional biology. I do this by investigating various aspects, including partitioning frames and explanatory accounts, of the theoretical perspectives that fall under and are guided by compositional biology. I ground this general examination in a comparative analysis of three different disciplines with their associated compositional theoretical perspectives: comparative morphology, functional morphology, and developmental biology. I glean data for this analysis from canonical textbooks and defend the use of such texts for the philosophy of science. I end with a discussion of the importance of recognizing formal and compositional biology as two genuinely different ways of doing biology – the differences arising more from their distinct methodologies than from scientific discipline included or natural domain studied. Ultimately, developing a translation manual between the two styles would be desirable as they currently are, at times, in conflict.
Keywords Compositional biology  Developmental biology  Morphology  Parts  Science textbook  Style of theorizing  Theoretical perspective
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-005-9002-x
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.

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Citations of this work BETA

Who is a Modeler?M. Weisberg - 2007 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):207-233.
Interweaving Categories: Styles, Paradigms, and Models.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (4):628-639.
Systems Biology and the Integration of Mechanistic Explanation and Mathematical Explanation.Ingo Brigandt - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):477-492.
The Mind, the Lab, and the Field: Three Kinds of Populations in Scientific Practice.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Ryan Giordano, Michael D. Edge & Rasmus Nielsen - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:12-21.

View all 31 citations / Add more citations

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