Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 277-299

First online:

Integrating sciences by creating new disciplines: The case of cell biology

  • William BechtelAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Georgia State University University Plaza

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Many studies of the unification of science focus on the theories of different disciplines. The model for integration is the theory reduction model. This paper argues that the embodiment of theories in scientists, and the institutions in which scientists work and the instruments they employ, are critical to the sort of integration that actually occurs in science. This paper examines the integration of scientific endeavors that emerged in cell biology in the period after World War II when the development of cell fractionation and electron microscopy made serious investigations of cell organelles possible. One surprising feature of such integration is that it generated further disintegration as the new institutions of cell biology separated the practitioners of the new discipline from other, closely related biological disciplines.

Key words

Cell biology reduction instruments research techniques scientific institutions