Encyclopedia of Systems Biology

2013 Edition
| Editors: Werner Dubitzky, Olaf Wolkenhauer, Kwang-Hyun Cho, Hiroki Yokota

Philosophical and Foundational Issues in Systems Biology

  • Ulrich KrohsEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-9863-7_78


Systems biology is a knowledge generating endeavor of a new scale and perhaps even of a new quality. Its new epistemic processes ask for philosophical reflection – not only for reasons of academic interest, but also to help clarifying whether high-throughput data acquisition, data mining, and network modeling might imply any change in the kind of knowledge this field brings about, or in the kind of explanation it gives, in comparison with earlier research programs. Systems biology also asks for philosophic reflection in so far as it follows a holistic rather than a reductionist approach and thus deals with different kinds of part-whole relations, with emergence of system properties, and with the problem of how physicalism and an alleged anti-reductionism might go together (Boogerd et al. 2007). While systems biologist can certainly do their job without first trying to clarify such fundamental issues, those come inevitably into consideration as soon as the prospects of...

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  1. Boogerd FC, Bruggeman FJ, Hofmeyr J-HS, Westerhoff HV (eds) (2007) Systems biology: philosophical foundations. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  2. Krohs U (2012) Convenience experimentation. Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci 43:52–57PubMedGoogle Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany