Title

Models in biology and physics : what's the difference?

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Foundations of Science

Publication Date

11-1-2009

Volume

14

Issue

4

First Page

281

Last Page

294

Keywords

Evelyn Fox Keller, Analogy, Structural similarity, Modelling, Structuralism

Abstract

In Making Sense of Life, Keller emphasizes several differences between biology and physics. Her analysis focuses on significant ways in which modelling practices in some areas of biology, especially developmental biology, differ from those of the physical sciences. She suggests that natural models and modelling by homology play a central role in the former but not the latter. In this paper, I focus instead on those practices that are importantly similar, from the point of view of epistemology and cognitive science. I argue that concrete and abstract models are significant in both disciplines, that there are shared selection criteria for models in physics and biology, e.g. familiarity, and that modelling often occurs in a similar fashion.

DOI

10.1007/s10699-009-9160-4

Print ISSN

12331821

E-ISSN

15728471

Publisher Statement

Copyright © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

The same paper is presented at the Symposium on "Making Sense of Science : Historical and Philosophical Themes in the Work of Evelyn Fox Keller", Leeds, United Kingdom, 3-4 May 2007.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version

Recommended Citation

Rowbottom, D. P. (2009). Models in biology and physics: What's the difference? Foundations of Science, 14(4), 281-294. doi: 10.1007/s10699-009-9160-4