Methodological strategies in contemporary symbiosis research and their historical rootsfrom mechanistic to non-mechanistic modes of explanation

  1. Suárez Díaz, Javier
Dirigida per:
  1. José Antonio Díez Calzada Director/a
  2. John Dupré Codirector/a

Universitat de defensa: Universitat de Barcelona

Fecha de defensa: 20 de de maig de 2020

  1. Sara Green President/a
  2. Harold Carl Hoefer Secretari/ària
  3. Johannes Jaeger Vocal

Tipus: Tesi

Teseo: 626033 DIALNET


Symbiosis research is a growing field in contemporary biology. Current advances in modelling and experimental techniques have made possible to develop new ways of studying some multispecies symbiotic systems whose study had been mostly ignored in the past. Some of these new modelling and experimental techniques rely on the use of sophisticated mathematical tools (such as network analysis) that can only be used if the system is conceived holistically. One of the main consequences of this approach is that de-composition becomes an impossible task: if biologists want to understand how some multispecies symbiotic systems work, how they behave, or how they evolve, they need to study the system holistically, rather than study how each of the parts of the system relates to each other. This type of research seems to question the dominant tradition in contemporary philosophy of science and biology, namely: new-mechanism. According to the principles of new-mechanistic philosophy, biological systems need to be de-composed in their component elements to properly understand how they work, and in order to unveil the causal connections among the components. The purpose of this doctoral thesis is to understand how contemporary symbiosis research questions some of the core philosophical thesis that underlie new-mechanistic philosophy. To do so, the thesis will rely on two philosophical methods: (1) analysis of scientific practise; (2) conceptual analysis. By applying these two methods to contemporary symbiosis research, the thesis gives rise to three papers in specialized journals, added as annexes. The key original contribution of the doctoral dissertation is that contemporary symbiosis research relies on the use of certain mathematical methods that are only applicable if the system is studied holistically, and thus entail a form of non-causal-mechanistic explanation. In the end, several open questions for future research are presented.