From molecules to behavior and the clinic: Integration in Chronobiology

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Bechtel, William
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preprint description
Chronobiology, especially the study of circadian rhythms, provides a model scientific field in which philosophers can study how investigators from a variety of disciplines working at different levels of organization are each contributing to a multi-level account of the responsible mechanism. I focus on how the framework of mechanistic explanation integrates research designed to decompose the mechanism with efforts directed at recomposition that relies especially on computation models. I also examine how recently the integration has extended beyond basic research to the processes through which the disruption of circadian rhythms contributes to disease, including various forms of cancer. Understanding these linkages has been facilitated by discoveries about how circadian mechanisms interact with mechanisms involved in other physiological processes, including the cell cycle and the immune system.