Extrapolating from Model Organisms in Pharmacology

  • Veli-Pekka ParkkinenEmail author
  • Jon Williamson
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 338)


In this chapter we explore the process of extrapolating causal claims from model organisms to humans in pharmacology. We describe and compare four strategies of extrapolation: enumerative induction, comparative process tracing, phylogenetic reasoning, and robustness reasoning. We argue that evidence of mechanisms plays a crucial role in several strategies for extrapolation and in the underlying logic of extrapolation: the more directly a strategy establishes mechanistic similarities between a model and humans, the more reliable the extrapolation. We present case studies from the research on atherosclerosis and the development of statins, that illustrate these strategies and the role of mechanistic evidence in extrapolation.



This research was carried out as a part of the projects Grading evidence of mechanisms in physics and biology, supported by the Leverhulme Trust, and Evaluating evidence in medicine, supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. We are grateful to the referees and editors for helpful comments.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Centre for ReasoningUniversity of KentCanterburyUK

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