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Award Number Grant ProgramAward RecipientProject TitleAward PeriodApproved Award Total
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RZ-51240-10Research Programs: Collaborative ResearchWashington UniversityDiscovering Mechanisms: Strategies from the History of Biology10/1/2010 - 9/30/2013$110,000.00CarlF.Craver   Washington UniversitySt. LouisMO63130-4862USA2010History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and MedicineCollaborative ResearchResearch Programs1100000101684.230

Preparation for publication of a scholarly study on the theory of mechanisms in biology. (12 months)

A central aim of science is to discover mechanisms. Knowledge of mechanisms gives the scientist the ability to predict how a system will behave under a variety of conditions, to explain how it works, and to control how it works for good or ill. Building on our prior collaboration, we will write a book, In Search of Mechanisms. We collect the insights of the new mechanists into one book with one voice and one story arc. We also extend our earlier research by focusing on the strategies scientists can use to construct, evaluate, and revise models of mechanisms. We ground our discussion in classic examples from the history of biology, including genetics, molecular biology, neuroscience, physiology, and evolutionary biology. We thus demonstrate the applicability of the new mechanistic philosophy to central examples that have driven the philosophy of biology for the last 30 years and show how this approach solves many central problems in philosophy of science.