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From Mechanisms to Mathematical Models and Back to Mechanisms: Quantitative Mechanistic Explanations

  • Tudor M. Baetu
Part of the History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences book series (HPTL, volume 11)

Abstract

Despite the philosophical clash between deductive-nomological and mechanistic accounts of explanation, in scientific practice, both approaches are required in order to achieve more complete explanations and guide the discovery process. I defend this thesis by discussing the case of mathematical models in systems biology. Not only such models complement the mechanistic explanations of molecular biology by accounting for poorly understood aspects of biological phenomena, they can also reveal unsuspected ‘black boxes’ in mechanistic explanations, thus prompting their revision while providing new insights about the causal-mechanistic structure of the world.

Keywords

Scientific explanation Quantitative-dynamic explanation Mechanism Mathematical model Systems biology 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by a generous fellowship from the KLI Institute. I would also like to thank the editors of the volume, Christophe Malaterre and Pierre-Alain Braillard, for their thoughtful comments on previous drafts of the paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de FilosofiaUniversidade do Vale do Rio dos SinosSão LeopoldoBrasil

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