Methods and Morals in the Life Sciences: A Guide for Analyzing and Writing Texts

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Most researchers would be amazed to discover that opinions they have about cherished themes in biology and medicine are biased. Van der Steen and Ho contend that logic and methodology are not well applied in biology and medicine, arguing that the impact of social and moral factors on claims within these two disciplines is underestimated. In response to this situation, Van der Steen and Ho present tools from logic and ethics for assessing existing literature. These tools will help to create sound articles and materials in the life sciences.

After reviewing logic and methodological approaches, broad guidelines are used to place science in a social context. Examples from life sciences illustrate the implementation of logic, methodology, and guidelines in forty-five brief case studies. Each study includes comments on quoted and paraphrased passages from a single article or book. Cross-references facilitate the assimilation of lessons from the text. Students, researchers, and scholars in biology, biomedicine, philosophy, and ethics as applied to the life sciences will find this guide useful in improving their research and writing skills.

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Editorial Reviews

In a novel approach to assessing value issues in the life sciences, Van der Steen (philosophy of biology, Vrije U., Amsterdam) introduces methodological criteria and guidelines cum practical philosophy in structuring concepts, empirical statements, arguments about empirical matters, and hypotheses/theories. The author applies these standards in comments on 45 text examples related to debates over the bases for behavior and psychopathology, and medication and genetic engineering issues. Three contributed responses to the author's case study of the alleged biased promotion of NSAID drugs are included. Improving writing style is finally addressed in an appendix. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275971199
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/30/2001
  • Pages: 222
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

WIM J. van der STEEN is Professor of Philosophy of Biology at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

VINCENT K. Y. HO is with the Faculty of Biology, Vrije Universiteit.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to This Book 1
Pt. I Methodology as Practical Philosophy 7
Concepts, Statements, and Arguments 13
Hypotheses, Theories, and Explanations 35
Facts and Values 45
Pt. II Putting Science in Context 49
A Survey of Guidelines 55
Pt. III Applications: Texts with Comments 71
Altruism and Egoism 75
Genes, Behavior, and Psychopathology 101
Medication 131
Stress 143
Genetic Engineering 151
Miscellaneous Subjects 161
Pt. IV A Tale of Nonsteroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs 171
Biased Promotion of Drugs: The Case of NSAIDs 177
Responses 185
App. to Pt. IV Improving Style 193
Postlude 203
Bibliography: A Note Concerning Sources 205
Index 207
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