Science without Laws: Model Systems, Cases, Exemplary Narratives

Science without Laws: Model Systems, Cases, Exemplary Narratives

by Angela N. H. Creager
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0822340682

ISBN-13: 9780822340683

Pub. Date: 09/03/2007

Publisher: Duke University Press Books

Physicists regularly invoke universal laws, such as those of motion and electromagnetism, to explain events. Biological and medical scientists have no such laws. How then do they acquire a reliable body of knowledge about biological organisms and human disease? One way is by repeatedly returning to, manipulating, observing, interpreting, and reinterpreting certain

Overview

Physicists regularly invoke universal laws, such as those of motion and electromagnetism, to explain events. Biological and medical scientists have no such laws. How then do they acquire a reliable body of knowledge about biological organisms and human disease? One way is by repeatedly returning to, manipulating, observing, interpreting, and reinterpreting certain subjects-such as flies, mice, worms, or microbes-or, as they are known in biology, "model systems." Across the natural and social sciences, other disciplinary fields have developed canonical examples that have played a role comparable to that of biology's model systems, serving not only as points of reference and illustrations of general principles or values but also as sites of continued investigation and reinterpretation. The essays in this collection assess the scope and function of model objects in domains as diverse as biology, geology, and history, attending to differences between fields as well as to epistemological commonalities.

Contributors examine the role of the fruit fly Drosophila and nematode worms in biology, troops of baboons in primatology, box and digital simulations of the movement of the earth's crust in geology, and meteorological models in climatology. They analyze the intensive study of the prisoner's dilemma in game theory, ritual in anthropology, the individual case in psychoanalytic research, and Athenian democracy in political theory. The contributors illuminate the processes through which particular organisms, cases, materials, or narratives become foundational to their fields, and they examine how these foundational exemplars-from the fruit fly to Freud's Dora-shape the knowledge producedwithin their disciplines.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780822340683
Publisher:
Duke University Press Books
Publication date:
09/03/2007
Series:
Science and Cultural Theory
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Table of Contents


Introduction   Angela N. H. Creager   Elizabeth Lunbeck   M. Norton Wise     1
Biology
Redesigning the Fruit Fly: The Molecularization of Drosophila   Marcel Weber     23
Wormy Logic: Model Organisms as Case-Based Reasoning   Rachel A. Ankeny     46
Model Organisms as Powerful Tools for Biomedical Research   E. Jane Albert Hubbard     59
The Troop Trope: Baboon Behavior as a Model System in the Postwar Period   Susan Sperling     73
Simulations
From Scaling to Simulation: Changing Meanings and Ambitions of Models in Geology   Naomi Oreskes     93
Models and Simulations in Climate Change: Historical, Epistemological, Anthropological, and Political Aspects   Amy Dahan Dalmedico     125
The Curious Case of the Prisoner's Dilemma: Model Situation? Exemplary Narrative?   Mary S. Morgan     157
Human Sciences
The Psychoanalytic Case: Voyeurism, Ethics, and Epistemology in Robert Stoller's Sexual Excitement   John Forrester     189
"To Exist Is to Have Confidence in One's Way of Being": Rituals as Model Systems   Clifford Geertz     212
Democratic Athens as an Experimental System: History and the Project of Political Theory   Josiah Ober     225
Latitude, Slaves, and the Bible: An Experimentin Microhistory   Carlo Ginzburg     243
Afterword: Reflections on Exemplary Narratives, Cases, and Model Organisms   Mary S. Morgan     264
Contributors     275
Index     279

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