Causal explanation beyond the gene: Manipulation and causality in epigenetics

Citation data:

Theoria (Spain), ISSN: 0495-4548, Vol: 27, Issue: 2, Page: 153-174

Publication Year:
2012
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Repository URL:
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10228
DOI:
10.1387/theoria.4073
Author(s):
Baedke, Jan
Publisher(s):
Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del PaĆ­s Vasco
Tags:
Arts and Humanities
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article description
This paper deals with the interrelationship between causal explanation and methodology in a relatively young discipline in biology: epigenetics. Based on cases from molecular and ecological epigenetics, I show that James Woodward's interventionist account of causation captures essential features about how epigeneticists using highly diverse methods, i.e. laboratory experiments and purely observational studies, think about causal explanation. I argue that interventionism thus qualifies as a useful unifying explanatory approach when it comes to cross-methodological research efforts. It can act as a guiding rationale (i) to link causal models in molecular biology with statistical models derived from observational data analysis and (ii) to identify test-criteria for reciprocal transparent studies in different fields of research, which is a shared issue across the sciences.

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