SPSP 2013 Contributed Papers: Explanation in the Biological Sciences

Jun 28 2013 Published by under Biology, Conferences, Methodology, Philosophy

SPSP 2013 Contributed Papers: Explanation in the Biological Sciences

Tweeted from the 4th biennial conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on June 27, 2013, during Concurrent Sessions III

  1. Again, I had to make a choice about which of four sessions to attend, and this one drew me in.

    You might ask, "What happened to Concurrent Sessions II?"
  2. I know my multi-tasking limits, yo!
  3. On deck: session of contributed papers on explanation in the biological sciences. #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  4. First up: Ingo Brigandt, "Systems biology & the limits of philosophical accounts of mechanistic explanation" #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  5. Mechanistic expl'ns - in terms of structural parts and their qualitative interactions #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  6. Systems biology expl'ns are mechanistic (based on molecular data), but mathematical modeling is essential #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  7. New mechanists haven't analyzed what a mathematical model adds to explanation #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  8. There are qualitative explanada requiring a quantitative explanation #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  9. SOme mechanistic detail should be omitted if not relevant for the explanandum #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  10. 'Predictive' effects on molecular manipulations internal to the system (explanation, therapeutic intervention) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  11. Case: development of tooth shape. Gene network->mathematical model (predictions tested against in vivo data) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  12. Activator-inhibitor system abstracts away from some mechanistic detail #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  13. PDEs, non-linear system: development outcome sensitive to *quantitiative* initial differences #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  14. To have complete expl'n of development of tooth, need more than mathematical model #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  15. Recurring motifs in sea shell coloration pattern (qualitative explanandum) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  16. Spontaneous symmetry breaking: qualitative pattern emerges from nearly homogenous state #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  17. Modeling apoptosis. Math. models oredict the system behavior expt'lly known from mutants w/molec pathway change #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  18. Qual explanadum bistability: alive state (maintained despite noise) vs. apoptosis state (irreversibly executed) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  19. Mech: molecular pathways & mathematical models (PDEs), without which couldn't find thresholds #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  20. Math. model needs to explain how cells components interact over time to generate oscillations of gene activities #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  21. Mech. features like and - feedback loops #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto (Having a flashback to my Chem PhD research!)
  22. Mech structure gives basic feedback structure, math. model gives dynamics #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  23. Some explanatorily relevant features can only be mathematically/quantitatively represented #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  24. Need to show that explanandum RESULTS from system organization and operation #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  25. In real mechs, lots of transients, dynamical-functional aspects, dispositional props (robust vs. perturbations) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  26. Next up: Alan C. Love, "The invisibility of scientific practice in interdisciplinary explanations" #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  27. A Kuhnian worry: revolutions become invisible when described in textbooks, popular presentations #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  28. Points to mismatch between presentation & prosecution of scientific inquiry (Cf. Medawar on scientific paper) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  29. Traditional response: can ignore mismatches b/c of underlying logic of science #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  30. Postulating hidden structure to account for sci reasoning obscures how scientists access it to evaluate reasoning #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  31. Epistemic accessibility (vs. postulated hidden reasoning structure) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  32. Demands descriptive correspondence betw philosophical accts of scientific reasoning & actual scientific practices #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  33. What happens when scientists can't access relevant practices 2 evaluate cogency of expl'n or inductive inference? #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  34. Invisible scientific practices can be source of epistemic tensions, conflicts across disciplines #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  35. Reasons for invisibility? Exposure of divergence of standards, context sensitivity of concepts #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  36. Particularly interdisciplinary expl'n: recent fossil find arg'd to be 1st evidence of viviparity in plesiosaurs #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  37. By the way, @edyong209 has a nice write-up on the Science paper in question here.
  38. Argument drew on different disciplines (ecology, development, systematics) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  39. Arg from fossil depends in part on reconstruction of size of plesiosaur at birth #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  40. Unnec. & unhelpful distractions? No description of embryological practicesr to underwrite ID of poor ossification #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  41. Main support comes from appeal to fossil embryo series in other marine reptiles #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  42. Differing stds of evauation between neontology & paleontology are ignored here #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  43. Claims about K-selection vs. r-selection more heuristic, hard to test, etc. #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  44. Invisibility of practices in interdisciplinary explanation have an impact on its force & cogency #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  45. Invisibility of practices as a problem for scientists AMPLIFIED for philosophers. Practice is hard to see! #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  46. For the sake of epistemic accessibility, we must focus on interdisciplinary & become interdisciplinary #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  47. Interdisciplinary work more likely to make practices visible due to explicit negotiations #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  48. Once tensions due to invisible practices are made visible, explicated, something can be done about them #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  49. There are compensatory tactics (e.g., making stds explicit, acknowledging relevant contexts) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  50. Problem: if reading is main way philosophers learn about science, will miss out on lots of the practices #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  51. Developing relationships w/scientists may help (could ask Qs, get feedback from them abt our pictures of science) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  52. Philosophers could learn how to make choices about simplification, etc., from scientists modeling complex systems #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  53. Tensions might or might not be conflicts; unpacking practices might reveal there's nothing that needs resolving #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto

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