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Séminaire Epistémod - 03 - Pablo Lorenzano
- Titre et Résumé:
Explanations in Classical Genetics: A Model-theoretic Account
The aim of this talk is to analyze the kind of explanations usually given in Classical Genetics. Explanations in biology have intriguing aspects to both biologists and philosophers. A summary of these aspects are found in the introduction to the anthology Explanation in Biology: An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences (Braillard & Malaterre 2015):
We will outline four of the most salient problems in the current debate. These problems are related to (1) whether natural laws exist in biology, (2) whether causation plays a specific explanatory role in biology, (3) whether other forms of explanation – e.g., functional or teleological – are also needed, and (4) whether the recent mechanistic type model of explanation that brings together some form of law-like generalizations and of causation fulfill all expectations. (p. 9)
With our analysis of explanations in Classical Genetics the last problem, which relates to the first two ones, will be addressed straightforward. But instead of doing it with “the recent mechanistic type model of explanation”, it will be done with a model-theoretic, structuralist account of explanation.
First, explanations in Classical Genetics will be presented in the traditional format of explanations as summarized by arguments.
Later on, the nature of these explanations will be discussed by using explanations in another area of science, namely, Classical Mechanics.
To clarify the situation, and to carry out an analysis of explanations in Classical Genetics, notions of the structuralist view of theories ‒ especially those of theory-net, fundamental law (or guiding principle), specialization, and special law ‒ will be applied to Classical Genetics. In this application, Classical Genetics’ fundamental law/guiding principle will be made explicit.
Next, in order to make more transparent the ontological commitments of Classical Genetics (some of which would play a causal role), explanations will be presented in a model-theoretic, structuralist format as ampliative embeddings into nomic patterns within theory-nets.
Finally, it will conclude with a discussion of the presented analysis, arguing in favor of the model-theoretic, structuralist account of explanation “that brings together some form of law-like generalizations and of causation”.
Balzer, W., Moulines, C.U. and J. Sneed (1987), An Architectonic for Science. The Structuralist Program, Dordrecht: Reidel, 1987.
Braillard, P.-A. and C. Malaterre (eds.) (2015), Explanation in Biology: An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences, Netherlands: Springer.
Bartelborth, T. (1996), “Scientific Explanation”, in Balzer, W. and C.U. Moulines (eds.), Structuralist Theory of Science. Focal Issues, New Results, Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 23-43.
Carnap, R. (1950), “Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology”, Revue Internationale de Philosophie 4: 20-40.
Díez, J.A. (2014), “Scientific w-Explanation as Ampliative, Specialized Embedding: A Neo-Hempelian Account”, Erkenntnis 79(8): 1413-1443.
Díez, J.A. and P. Lorenzano (2015), “Are Natural Selection Explanatory Models A Priori?”, Biology & Philosophy 30(6): 787-809.
Forge, J. (2002), “Reflections on Structuralism and Scientific Explanation”, Synthese 130: 109-121.
Lorenzano, P. (2000), “Classical Genetics and the Theory-Net of Genetics”, in Balzer, W., Moulines, C.U. and J.D. Sneed (eds.), Structuralist Knowledge Representation: Paradigmatic Examples, Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 251-284.
Lorenzano, P. (2005), “Comentarios a ‘Explicación teórica y compromisos ontológicos: un modelo estructuralista’ de C.U. Moulines”, Enrahonar: quaderns de filosofia 37: 55-59.
Lorenzano, P. (2007), “The Influence of Genetics on Philosophy of Science: Classical Genetics and the Structuralist View of Theories”, in Fagot-Largeault, A., Torres, J.M. and S. Rahman (eds.), The Influence of Genetics on Contemporary Thinking, Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 99-115.
Reutlinger, A. (2014), “The Generalizations of Biology: Historical and Contingent?”, in M.I. Kaiser et al. (eds.), Explanation in the Special Sciences: The Case of Biology and History, Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 131-153.
Woodward, J. (2001), “Law and Explanation in Biology: Invariance Is the Kind of Stability That Matters”, Philosophy of Science 68(1): 1-20.
Woodward, J. (2010), “Causation in Biology: Stability, Specificity, and the Choice of Levels of Explanation”, Biology & Philosophy 25(3): 287-318.
Waters, K, (2007), “Causes that Make a Difference”, Journal of Philosophy CIV: 551-579.
Pablo Lorenzano is a philosopher specialized in history and philosophy of science (HPS), in particular of biology. He is known for his philosophical (synchronic and diachronic) analyses of empirical theories by means of metatheoretical structuralism, and for his historiographical analysis of the origins of genetics. Having made undergraduate studies at the UNAM (Mexico), he got a Ph.D. from the Free University of Berlin , and has published the book Geschichte und Struktur der klassischen Genetik (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1995), and edited History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences in the South Cone (Lorenzano, Martins & Regner (eds.), London: College Publications, 2013), and the articles “Meta-Theoretical Contributions to the Constitution of a Model-Based Didactics of Science” (with Y. Ariza & A. Adúriz-Bravo, Science & Education 25(7-8) (2016): 747-773), “Are Natural Selection Explanatory Models A Priori?” (with J. Díez, Biology & Philosophy 30(6) (2015): 787-809), “The Semantic Conception and the Structuralist View of Theories: A Critique of Suppe’s Criticisms” (Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 44(4) (2013): 600-607), “Who Got What Wrong? Sober and F&PP on Darwin: Guiding Principles and Explanatory Models in Natural Selection” (with J. Díez, Erkenntnis 78(5) (2013): 1143-1175), “What Would Have Happened if Darwin Had Known Mendel (or Mendel’s Work)?” (History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33 (2011): 3-48), “The Logical Structure of Classical Genetics” (with W. Balzer, Zeitschrift für allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 31(2) (2000): 243-266), “What is the Status of the Hardy-Weinberg Law within Population Genetics?” (in Galavotti, M.C., Nemeth, E. and F. Stadler (eds.), European Philosophy of Science – Philosophy of Science in Europe and the Viennese Heritage, Dordrecht: Springer, 2014, pp. 159-172), “Logic and Methodology of Science: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science” (in Lorenzano, P., Rheinberger, H.-J., Ortiz, E. and C. Galles (eds.), History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, Vol. 1, Oxford: EOLSS Publishers Co. Ltd., 2010, pp. 1-50), “The Influence of Genetics on Philosophy of Science: Classical Genetics and the Structuralist View of Theories” (in Fagot-Largeault, A., Torres, J.M. and S. Rahman (eds.), The Influence of Genetics on Contemporary Thinking, Dordrecht: Springer, 2007, pp. 99-115), “Fundamental Laws and Laws of Biology” (in Ernst, G. and K.-G. Niebergall (eds.), Philosophie der Wissenschaft – Wissenschaft der Philosophie. Festschrift für C.Ulises Moulines zum 60. Geburstag, Paderborn: Mentis-Verlag, 2006, pp. 129-155), “Classical Genetics and the Theory-Net of Genetics” (in Balzer, W., Moulines, C.U. and J. Sneed (eds.), Structuralist Knowledge Representation: Paradigmatic Examples, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000, pp. 251-284), among others.
He was Director of the Institute of Studies on Science and Technology (National University of Quilmes, 2002-2004). Secretary of the Latin American Society of History of Sciences and Technology (SLHCT) (2000-2004). Vice-president (2000-2002) and President (2002-2004) of the Association of Philosophy and History of Science of the South Cone (AFHIC). He was Chair of the Joint Commission, Member of the Council (as Assessor) of the Division of History of Science and Technology, and Assessor of the Executive Committee of the Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. He is Member of the Académie International de Philosophie des Sciences, of the International Academy of the History of Science, of the Committee for Integrated History and Philosophy of Science, and Member of the Directive Board of the Ibero American Association of Philosophy of Biology (AIFIBI).
He has work experience as undergraduate and graduate Professor, and as Visiting Researcher, from different institutions of Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Paraguay, Spain, USA and now France.
He is Editor-in-Chief of Metatheoria. Journal of Philosophy and History of Science.
He is full professor, and director of the Center of Studies in Philosophy and History of Science (CEFHIC), at the National University of Quilmes, and main researcher of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), from Argentina.