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Reasoning Strategies in Molecular Biology: Abstractions, Scans and Anomalies

Lindley Darden and Michael Cook
PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association
Vol. 1994, Volume Two: Symposia and Invited Papers (1994), pp. 179-191
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/192928
Page Count: 13
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Reasoning Strategies in Molecular Biology: Abstractions, Scans and Anomalies
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Abstract

Molecular biologists use different kinds of reasoning strategies for different tasks, such as hypothesis formation, experimental design, and anomaly resolution. More specifically, the reasoning strategies discussed in this paper may be characterized as (1) abstraction-instantiation, in which an abstract skeletal model is instantiated to produce an experimental system; (2) the systematic scan, in which alternative hypotheses are systematically generated; and (3) modular anomaly resolution, in which components of a model are stated explicitly and methodically changed to generate alternative changes to resolve an anomaly. This work grew out of close observation over a period of six months of an actively functioning molecular genetics laboratory.

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