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Synthetic Biology and the Search for Alternative Genetic Systems: Taking How-Possibly Models SeriouslyHow-possibly models are usually treated as some kind of second-rate theoretical tools. They may be indispensable in the early stages of theorizing, but do not constitute the main aim of modeling, namely, the discovering of a one true mechanism responsible for the phenomenon under study. I argue that this prevailing picture does not do justice to the synthetic strategy that is commonly used in the engineering sciences. In synthetic biology, how-possibly models are not something to be eliminated by a more detailed analysis, but rather design hypotheses for a field whose ultimate goal is to build novel biological systems.
Department of Political and Economic Studies/Social and Moral Philosophy
University of Helsinki