PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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On 'models of' and 'models for' in molecular biology

‘Models of (phenomena)’ should be understood as models to represent (according to specific criteria) biological phenomena, while ‘models for (manipulating phenomena)’ aid the elaboration of new experimental strategies. This distinction captures indispensable aspects of molecular biology, but it has been largely neglected in the literature. By discussing the discovery of restriction enzymes, I identify two specific cognitive dispositions of biologists that drive the construction of the two types of models. Such dispositions affect in important ways the choice of virtues that are ascribed to models in order to be considered ‘adequate’ models.

Author Information:

Emanuele Ratti    
Department for Theology, Science and Human Flourishing
University of Notre Dame

 

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