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How Practical Know‐How Contextualizes Theoretical Knowledge: Exporting Causal Knowledge from Laboratory to Nature

C. Kenneth Waters
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 75, No. 5, Proceedings of the 2006 Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science AssociationPart II: Symposia PapersEdited by Cristina Bicchieri and Jason Alexander (December 2008), pp. 707-719
DOI: 10.1086/594516
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/594516
Page Count: 13
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How Practical Know‐How Contextualizes Theoretical Knowledge: Exporting Causal Knowledge from Laboratory to Nature
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Abstract

Leading philosophical accounts presume that Thomas H. Morgan’s transmission theory can be understood independently of experimental practices. Experimentation is taken to be relevant to confirming, rather than interpreting, the transmission theory. But the construction of Morgan’s theory went hand in hand with the reconstruction of the chief experimental object, the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. This raises an important question: when a theory is constructed to account for phenomena in carefully controlled laboratory settings, what knowledge, if any, indicates the theory’s relevance to phenomena outside highly controlled settings? The answer, I argue, is found within the procedural knowledge embedded within laboratory practice.

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