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Models of' and 'Models for': On the Relation Between Mechanistic Models and Experimental Strategies in Molecular Biology

Emanuele, Ratti (2018) Models of' and 'Models for': On the Relation Between Mechanistic Models and Experimental Strategies in Molecular Biology. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Molecular biologists exploit information conveyed by mechanistic models for experimental purposes. In this contribution, I make sense of this aspect of biological practice by developing Keller’s idea of the distinction between ‘models of’ and ‘models for’. ‘Models of (phenomena)’ should be understood as models representing phenomena and they are valuable if they explain phenomena. ‘Models for (manipulating phenomena)’ suggest new types of material manipulations and they are important not because of their explanatory force, but because of the interventionist strategies they suggest. This is a distinction between aspects of the same model; in molecular biology, models may be treated either as ‘models of’ or as ‘models for’. By analyzing the discovery and characterization of restriction-modification systems and their exploitation for DNA cloning and mapping, I identify the differences between treating a model as a ‘model of’ or as a ‘model for’. In particular, I claim that the evaluation and development of models as either ‘models of’ or ‘models for’ is grounded in different cognitive dispositions, which prescribe different virtues for models.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Emanuele, Rattimnl.ratti@gmail.com
Additional Information: Forthcoming in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Keywords: molecular biology; biotechnology; mechanistic explanation; cognitive disposition; experimental strategies; restriction enzymes
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Dr Emanuele Ratti
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2017 02:23
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2017 02:23
Item ID: 14106
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Explanation
Date: 2018
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14106

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