Function and organization: comparing the mechanisms of protein synthesis and natural selection

McKay Illari, Phyllis and Williamson, Jon (2010) Function and organization: comparing the mechanisms of protein synthesis and natural selection. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C, 41 (3). pp. 279-291. ISSN 1369-8486. (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2010.07.001

Abstract

In this paper, we compare the mechanisms of protein synthesis and natural selection. We identify three core elements of mechanistic explanation: functional individuation, hierarchical nestedness or decomposition, and organization. These are now well understood elements of mechanistic explanation in fields such as protein synthesis, and widely accepted in the mechanisms literature. But Skipper and Millstein have argued (2005) that natural selection is neither decomposable nor organized. This would mean that much of the current mechanisms literature does not apply to the mechanism of natural selection. We take each element of mechanistic explanation in turn. Having appreciated the importance of functional individuation, we show how decomposition and organization should be better understood in these terms. We thereby show that mechanistic explanation by protein synthesis and natural selection are more closely analogous than they appear—both possess all three of these core elements of a mechanism widely recognized in the mechanisms literature.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BC Logic
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Jon Williamson
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2010 08:59
Last Modified: 06 May 2014 15:06
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/25822 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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