22 found
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  1.  6
    Philosophy of Molecular Medicine: Foundational Issues in Research and Practice.Giovanni Boniolo & Marco J. Nathan (eds.) - 2016 - New York: Routledge.
    _Philosophy of Molecular Medicine: Foundational Issues in Theory and Practice_ aims at a systematic investigation of a number of foundational issues in the field of molecular medicine. The volume is organized around four broad modules focusing, respectively, on the following key aspects: What are the nature, scope, and limits of molecular medicine? How does it provide explanations? How does it represent and model phenomena of interest? How does it infer new knowledge from data and experiments? The essays collected here, authored (...)
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  2.  18
    Does anybody really know what time it is?: From biological age to biological time.Marco J. Nathan - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (1):1-16.
    During his celebrated 1922 debate with Bergson, Einstein famously proclaimed: “the time of the philosopher does not exist, there remains only a psychological time that differs from the physicist’s.” Einstein’s dictum, I maintain, has been metabolized by the natural sciences, which typically presuppose, more or less explicitly, the existence of a single, univocal, temporal substratum, ultimately determined by physics. This reductionistic assumption pervades much biological and biomedical practice. The chronological age allotted to individuals is conceived as an objective quantity, allowing (...)
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  3.  87
    The Idealization of Causation in Mechanistic Explanation.Alan C. Love & Marco J. Nathan - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):761-774.
    Causal relations among components and activities are intentionally misrepresented in mechanistic explanations found routinely across the life sciences. Since several mechanists explicitly advocate accurately representing factors that make a difference to the outcome, these idealizations conflict with the stated rationale for mechanistic explanation. We argue that these idealizations signal an overlooked feature of reasoning in molecular and cell biology—mechanistic explanations do not occur in isolation—and suggest that explanatory practices within the mechanistic tradition share commonalities with model-based approaches prevalent in population (...)
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  4.  83
    The Future of Cognitive Neuroscience? Reverse Inference in Focus.Marco J. Nathan & Guillermo Del Pinal - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (7):e12427.
    This article presents and discusses one of the most prominent inferential strategies currently employed in cognitive neuropsychology, namely, reverse inference. Simply put, this is the practice of inferring, in the context of experimental tasks, the engagement of cognitive processes from locations or patterns of neural activation. This technique is notoriously controversial because, critics argue, it presupposes the problematic assumption that neural areas are functionally selective. We proceed as follows. We begin by introducing the basic structure of traditional “location-based” reverse inference (...)
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  5.  76
    Unificatory Explanation.Marco J. Nathan - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1).
    Philosophers have traditionally addressed the issue of scientific unification in terms of theoretical reduction. Reductive models, however, cannot explain the occurrence of unification in areas of science where successful reductions are hard to find. The goal of this essay is to analyse a concrete example of integration in biology—the developmental synthesis—and to generalize it into a model of scientific unification, according to which two fields are in the process of being unified when they become explanatorily relevant to each other. I (...)
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  6. There and Up Again: On the Uses and Misuses of Neuroimaging in Psychology.Guillermo Del Pinal & Marco J. Nathan - 2013 - Cognitive Neuropsychology 30 (4):233-252.
    The aim of this article is to discuss the conditions under which functional neuroimaging can contribute to the study of higher cognition. We begin by presenting two case studies—on moral and economic decision making—which will help us identify and examine one of the main ways in which neuroimaging can help advance the study of higher cognition. We agree with critics that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies seldom “refine” or “confirm” particular psychological hypotheses, or even provide details of the neural (...)
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  7.  88
    The Varieties of Molecular Explanation.Marco J. Nathan - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (2):233-254.
    Reductionists in biology claim that all biological events can be explained in terms of genes and macromolecules alone, while antireductionists argue that some biological events must be explained at a higher level. The literature, however, does not distinguish between different kinds of molecular explanation. The goal of this article is to identify and analyze three such kinds. The analysis of molecular explanations herein carries an important philosophical implication; in shunning crude reductionism and extreme versions of holism, we can combine the (...)
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  8. Causation by Concentration.Marco J. Nathan - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (2):191-212.
    This essay is concerned with concentrations of entities, which play an important—albeit often overlooked—role in scientific explanation. First, I discuss an example from molecular biology to show that concentrations can play an irreducible causal role. Second, I provide a preliminary philosophical analysis of this causal role, suggesting some implications for extant theories of causation. I conclude by introducing the concept of causation by concentration, a form of statistical causation whose widespread presence throughout the sciences has been unduly neglected and which (...)
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  9.  8
    Rethinking ageing: introduction.Alessandro Blasimme, Giovanni Boniolo & Marco J. Nathan - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (3):1-8.
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  10.  19
    Pluralism is the Answer! What is the Question?Marco J. Nathan - 2019 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 11.
    The ‘species problem’ can be characterized, to a first approximation, as the task of providing a viable species concept —that is, a functional analysis that picks out the ‘right’ kind of biological entities. After decades of debate and centuries of taxonomic practice, no overarching consensus has been reached. The individuation and definition of the units of evolution and classification, species included, remains controversial. If anything, there now seems to be more disagreement than ever before.
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  11.  66
    Causation vs. Causal Explanation: Which Is More Fundamental?Marco J. Nathan - 2020 - Foundations of Science 28 (1):441-454.
    This essay examines the relation between causation and causal explanation. It distinguishes two prominent roles that causes play within the sciences. On the one hand, causes may work as metaphysical posits. From this standpoint, mainstream in contemporary philosophy, causation provides the ‘raw material’ for explanation. On the other hand, causes may be conceived as explanatory postulates, theoretical hypotheses lacking any substantial ontological commitment. This unduly neglected distinction provides the conceptual resources to revisit longstanding philosophical issues, such as overdetermination and causal (...)
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  12.  12
    Black Boxes: How Science Turns Ignorance Into Knowledge.Marco J. Nathan - 2021 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    Bricks and boxes -- Between Scylla and Charybdis -- Lessons from the history of science -- Placeholders -- Black-boxing 101 -- History of science 'black-boxing style' -- Diet mechanistic philosophy -- Emergence reframed -- The fuel of scientific progress -- Sailing through the strait.
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  13. Mapping the mind: bridge laws and the psycho-neural interface.Marco J. Nathan & Guillermo Del Pinal - 2016 - Synthese 193 (2):637-657.
    Recent advancements in the brain sciences have enabled researchers to determine, with increasing accuracy, patterns and locations of neural activation associated with various psychological functions. These techniques have revived a longstanding debate regarding the relation between the mind and the brain: while many authors claim that neuroscientific data can be employed to advance theories of higher cognition, others defend the so-called ‘autonomy’ of psychology. Settling this significant issue requires understanding the nature of the bridge laws used at the psycho-neural interface. (...)
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  14. Development and natural kinds: Some lessons from biology.Marco J. Nathan & Andrea Borghini - 2014 - Synthese 191 (3):539-556.
    While philosophers tend to consider a single type of causal history, biologists distinguish between two kinds of causal history: evolutionary history and developmental history. This essay studies the peculiarity of development as a criterion for the individuation of biological traits and its relation to form, function, and evolution. By focusing on examples involving serial homologies and genetic reprogramming, we argue that morphology (form) and function, even when supplemented with evolutionary history, are sometimes insufficient to individuate traits. Developmental mechanisms bring in (...)
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  15.  98
    A Simulacrum Account of Dispositional Properties.Marco J. Nathan - 2013 - Noûs 49 (2):253-274.
    This essay presents a model-theoretic account of dispositional properties, according to which dispositions are not ordinary properties of real entities; dispositions capture the behavior of abstract, idealized models. This account has several payoffs. First, it saves the simple conditional analysis of dispositions. Second, it preserves the general connection between dispositions and regularities, despite the fact that some dispositions are not grounded in actual regularities. Finally, it brings together the analysis and the explanation of dispositions under a unified framework.
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  16.  61
    Molecular ecosystems.Marco J. Nathan - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (1):101-122.
    Biologists employ a suggestive metaphor to describe the complexities of molecular interactions within cells and embryos: cytological components are said to be part of “ecosystems” that integrate them in a complex network of relations with many other entities. The aim of this essay is to scrutinize the molecular ecosystem, a metaphor that, despite its longstanding history, has seldom be articulated in detail. I begin by analyzing some relevant analogies between the cellular environment and the biosphere. Next, I discuss the applicability (...)
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  17.  29
    Associative Bridge Laws and the Psycho-Neural Interface.Guillermo Del Pinal & Marco J. Nathan - unknown
    Recent advancements in the brain sciences have enabled researchers to determine, with increasing accuracy, patterns and locations of neural activation associated with various psychological functions. These techniques have revived a longstanding debate regarding the relation between the mind and the brain: while many authors now claim that neuroscientific data can be used to advance our theories of higher cognition, others defend the so-called `autonomy' of psychology. Settling this significant question requires understanding the nature of the bridge laws used at the (...)
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  18.  13
    Mob Rules: Toward a Causal Model of Social Structure.Andrea Borghini & Marco J. Nathan - 2022 - American Philosophical Quarterly 59 (1):11-26.
    This essay enriches causal models capturing the propagation of prejudice, bias, and other aggregative social mechanisms, negative or positive. These explananda include the reinforcement of economic inequality, “mob-like” behavior, peer pressure, and the establishment of social norms. The stage is set by introducing various forms of redundant causation and discussing some difficulties with mainstream preemption. Next the main proposal extends current representations of aggregative social mechanisms in two respects. First, it is more nuanced, as it identifies three distinct kinds of (...)
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  19.  42
    An ecological approach to modeling disability.Marco J. Nathan & Jeffrey M. Brown - 2018 - Bioethics 32 (9):593-601.
    This article develops an analysis of disability according to which disabling conditions are properties of organisms embedded in sets of environments. We begin by presenting the three mainstream accounts of disability—the medical, social, and interactionist models—and rehearsing some known limitations. We argue that, because of their primary focus on etiology, all three models share, more or less implicitly, a problematic assumption. This is the tenet that disabilities are individual properties. The second part of the essay presents an “ecological” interpretation of (...)
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  20. Causation and Explanation in Molecular Developmental Biology.Marco J. Nathan - unknown
    The aim of this dissertation is to provide an analysis of central concepts in philosophy of science from the perspective of current molecular and developmental research. Each chapter explores the ways in which particular phenomena or discoveries in molecular biology influences our philosophical understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge. The introductory prologue draws some general connections between the various threads, which revolve around two central themes: causation and explanation. Chapter Two identifies a particular type of causal relation which is (...)
     
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  21.  10
    Remarks on Emergence and Dynamic Interactions.Marco J. Nathan - 2019 - Southwest Philosophy Review 35 (2):1-3.
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  22.  1
    The quest for human nature: what philosophy and science have learned.Marco J. Nathan - 2024 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    Science and philosophy have discovered quite a lot about humans. The emergence and development of biology, psychology, anthropology, and cognate fields has substantially increased our knowledge about who we are and where we come from. The first half of this book provides an overview of key cutting-edge topics, from evolutionary psychology to contemporary critiques of essentialism, from genetic determinism to innateness. Nevertheless, these discoveries fall short of a full-blown theory of human nature. Why? Perhaps there is nothing there to discover (...)
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