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

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From design principles to biological explanation

Design principles are used across engineering disciplines to build complex systems and explain their organization and performance. Do design principles play similar epistemic roles in biological research? What justifies the application of design principles as discovery and explanation tools in fields like systems biology? We address these and related questions against the background of a robust philosophical framework which emphasizes the power of mechanistic strategies for describing and explaining the workings of living organisms. We argue that engineering-inspired design principles provide important representational and reasoning tools for characterizing and understanding the occurrence of stable organizational patterns across heterogeneous biological systems.

Author Information:

Maria Serban    
Department of Media, Cognition, and Communication
University of Copenhagen

Sara Green    
Department of Science Education
University of Copenhagen


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