Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 773-791

First online:

Causal isolation robustness analysis: the combinatorial strategy of circadian clock research

  • Tarja KnuuttilaAffiliated withUniversity of Helsinki Email author 
  • , Andrea LoettgersAffiliated withCalifornia Institute of Technology

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This paper distinguishes between causal isolation robustness analysis and independent determination robustness analysis and suggests that the triangulation of the results of different epistemic means or activities serves different functions in them. Circadian clock research is presented as a case of causal isolation robustness analysis: in this field researchers made use of the notion of robustness to isolate the assumed mechanism behind the circadian rhythm. However, in contrast to the earlier philosophical case studies on causal isolation robustness analysis (Weisberg and Reisman in Philos Sci 75:106–131, 2008; Kuorikoski et al. in Br J Philos Sci 61:541–567, 2010), robustness analysis in the circadian clock research did not remain in the level of mathematical modeling, but it combined it with experimentation on model organisms and a new type of model, a synthetic model.


Modeling Robustness analysis Causal isolation Synthetic biology Circadian clock