Project

Back to overview

Biological Mechanisms and General Philosophy of Science: Rethinking Discovery, Confirmation, Modeling, Realism and Long-Term Theory Change in the Life Sciences

English title Biological Mechanisms and General Philosophy of Science: Rethinking Discovery, Confirmation, Modeling, Realism and Long-Term Theory Change in the Life Sciences
Applicant Scholl Raphael
Number 154590
Funding scheme Advanced Postdoc.Mobility
Research institution Department of History and Philosophy Science University of Cambridge
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.09.2014 - 31.08.2016
Show all

All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Philosophy
Infectious Diseases
Embryology, Developmental Biology

Keywords (6)

causality; philosophy of science; history of embryology; history of infectious diseases; history of science; mechanisms

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
In der Vergangenheit galt die Entdeckung von Naturgesetzen als das Ziel der empirischen Wissenschaften. Diese Sichtweise passte jedoch schlecht zu den Biowissenschaften, in deren Praxis, Forschungsliteratur und Lehrbüchern kaum von Naturgesetzen die Rede ist. In den letzten fünfzehn Jahren wurde deshalb ein neuer wissenschaftstheoretischer Ansatz entwickelt, der für das Verständnis speziell der Zell- und Molekularbiologie angemessen scheint: Das Ziel der Biowissenschaften ist demnach die sorgfältige Charakterisierung so genannter biologischer Mechanismen. Im Vordergrund steht dabei die Untersuchung der Teile biologischer Systeme sowie ihrer Anordnung und ihres Zusammenspiels.
Lay summary

Ziele des Forschungsprojekts bei Forschungsbeginn

Bislang wurde vor allem diskutiert, wie biologische Mechanismen genau zu charakterisieren sind, wie mechanistische Erklärungen funktionieren und wie neue mechanistische Hypothesen entstehen. Das vorliegende Projekt interessiert sich darüber hinaus für die mittel- und langfristige Entwicklung der Untersuchung von Mechanismen: Ist das Wachstum von mechanistischem Wissen kontinuierlich, oder ist es geprägt durch tiefgreifende Umwälzungen und Richtungsänderungen? Die Frage wird anhand detaillierter historischer Fallstudien aus der Medizin und Biologie des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts untersucht. Zur Beziehung zwischen Theorie und Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften wird im Rahmen des Projekts zudem ein internationaler Sammelband veröffentlicht.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Die wachsende gesellschaftliche Bedeutung der Biowissenschaften verlangt ein historisch angemessenes und philosophisch gehaltvolles Verständnis der Theorie und der Praxis dieser Wissenschaftszweige. Das vorliegende Projekt trägt zu diesem übergeordneten Ziel bei.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.08.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
Discovery of causal mechanisms: Oxidative phosphorylation and the Calvin-Benson cycle
Scholl Raphael, Nickelsen Kärin (2015), Discovery of causal mechanisms: Oxidative phosphorylation and the Calvin-Benson cycle, in History and philosophy of the life sciences, 37(2), 180-209.
Peptische Ulzera und Helicobacter pylori: Wie wir wissen, was wir wissen
Scholl Raphael (2015), Peptische Ulzera und Helicobacter pylori: Wie wir wissen, was wir wissen, in Therapeutische Umschau, 72(7), 475-480.
Spot the difference: Causal contrasts in scientific diagrams
Scholl Raphael, Spot the difference: Causal contrasts in scientific diagrams, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 1.
The philosophy of historical case studies
, The philosophy of historical case studies, Boston Studies in Philosophy and History of Science, Dordrecht Heidelberg New York London.
Towards a methodology for integrated history and philosophy of science
Scholl Raphael, Räz Tim, Towards a methodology for integrated history and philosophy of science, in Sauer Tilman (ed.), Boston Studies in Philosophy and History of Science, Dordrecht Heidelberg New York London.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. William Bechtel (UCSD) United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
8th Quadrennial International Fellows Conference of the Pittsburgh Center for Philosophy of Science Talk given at a conference Historical Cases as Model Organisms 11.07.2016 Lund, Sweden Scholl Raphael;
8th Quadrennial International Fellows Conference of the Pittsburgh Center for Philosophy of Science Talk given at a conference Unwarranted assumptions: The neglect of the vera causa principle 11.07.2016 Lund, Sweden Scholl Raphael;
Sixth Conference of the Society for Integrated History and Philosophy of Science (&HPS6) Talk given at a conference Spot the difference: Causal contrasts in scientific diagrams 05.07.2016 Edinburgh, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Scholl Raphael;
Conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice Talk given at a conference Stability without stasis: Ambition and modesty of realism about true causes 19.06.2016 Glossboro, NJ, United States of America Scholl Raphael;
Oberseminar Wissenschaftsgeschichte Individual talk Unwarranted assumptions: Historical epistemology of the vera causa principle 28.04.2016 München, Germany Scholl Raphael;
What can the Philosophy of Biology learn from the History of Biology? Talk given at a conference Rethinking the relationship between history and philosophy of science 19.03.2016 Utrecht, Netherlands Scholl Raphael;
Scientific Realism and the Challenge from the History of Science Talk given at a conference Presume It Not: True causes in the search for the basis of heredity 19.02.2016 Indianapolis, IN, United States of America Scholl Raphael;
Perspectives for the history of the life sciences: New themes, new sources, new approaches Talk given at a conference Best explanation or true cause? The case of Darwin’s pangenesis 30.10.2015 München, Germany Scholl Raphael;
CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science Seminar) Individual talk The argument from the good lot: Unconceived alternatives and 20th century genetics 14.10.2015 Cambridge, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Scholl Raphael;
Conference of the European Society for Philosophy of Science (EPSA) Talk given at a conference The argument from the good lot: Unconceived alternatives and 20th century genetics 23.09.2015 Düsseldorf, Germany Scholl Raphael;
Testing philosophical theories against the history of science Talk given at a conference Confronting philosophical concepts with historical cases 21.09.2015 Oulu, Finland Scholl Raphael;
Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science Talk given at a conference Truth re-nomination and the Lotka-Volterra model 03.08.2015 Helsinki, Finland Scholl Raphael;
The Making of Measurement Talk given at a conference Measurement and the method of difference 23.07.2015 Cambridge, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Scholl Raphael;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Philosophie der Biologie German-speaking Switzerland 2015

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
167719 Biological Mechanisms and General Philosophy of Science: Rethinking Discovery, Confirmation, Modeling, Realism and Long-Term Theory Change in the Life Sciences 01.09.2016 Return CH Advanced Postdoc.Mobility

Abstract

In the past 15 years or so, a "new mechanistic" approach has gained considerable traction in history and philosophy of science. Its promise is a descriptively adequate and philosophically insightful meta-theory especially of the life sciences. The proposed project examines the implications of the new mechanistic approach for a number of issues in general philosophy of science: confirmation, discovery, modeling, scientific realism and long-term theory change. Each of these issues is examined on the basis of carefully chosen, thoroughly researched historical case studies. Significant new insights can be expected particularly into the issues of scientific realism and long-term theory change, which have not previously been examined in the context of new mechanisms.
-