Growing Explanations: Historical Perspectives on Recent Science - Science and Cultural Theory (Paperback)
  • Growing Explanations: Historical Perspectives on Recent Science - Science and Cultural Theory (Paperback)
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Growing Explanations: Historical Perspectives on Recent Science - Science and Cultural Theory (Paperback)

(editor)
£23.99
Paperback 360 Pages / Published: 24/11/2004
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For much of the twentieth century scientists sought to explain objects and processes by reducing them to their components-nuclei into protons and neutrons, proteins into amino acids, and so on-but over the past forty years there has been a marked turn toward explaining phenomena by building them up rather than breaking them down. This collection reflects on the history and significance of this turn toward "growing explanations" from the bottom up. The essays show how this strategy-based on a widespread appreciation for complexity even in apparently simple processes and on the capacity of computers to simulate such complexity-has played out in a broad array of sciences. They describe how scientists are reordering knowledge to emphasize growth, change, and contingency and, in so doing, are revealing even phenomena long considered elementary-like particles and genes-as emergent properties of dynamic processes.

Written by leading historians and philosophers of science, these essays examine the range of subjects, people, and goals involved in changing the character of scientific analysis over the last several decades. They highlight the alternatives that fields as diverse as string theory, fuzzy logic, artificial life, and immunology bring to the forms of explanation that have traditionally defined scientific modernity. A number of the essays deal with the mathematical and physical sciences, addressing concerns with hybridity and the materials of the everyday world. Other essays focus on the life sciences, where questions such as "What is life?" and "What is an organism?" are undergoing radical re-evaluation. Together these essays mark the contours of an ongoing revolution in scientific explanation.

Contributors. David Aubin, Amy Dahan Dalmedico, Richard Doyle, Claus Emmeche, Peter Galison, Stefan Helmreich, Ann Johnson, Evelyn Fox Keller, Ilana Loewy, Claude Rosental, Alfred Tauber

Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822333197
Number of pages: 360
Weight: 494 g
Dimensions: 235 x 152 x 24 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Growing Explanations registers the profound shift in many domains of science-from chaos theory to functional genomics-giving epistemological priority to complex and emergent phenomena. Anyone interested in the nature of contemporary science, especially the central role of the computer, will find this a fascinating read."-Angela N. H. Creager, Princeton University
"M. Norton Wise has orchestrated a volume of cutting-edge work exploring the sea change in contemporary models of explanation fueled by advances in computation, simulation, and the new sciences of complexity. The authors illustrate how, across a wide spectrum of disciplines, new strategies based on 'growing explanations' to understand the emergent behaviors of systems constructed from the bottom up are replacing the traditional 'reductionist' credo of explaining complex phenomena in terms of simple entities. An important and timely volume for anyone interested in science studies."-Timothy Lenoir, author of Instituting Science: The Cultural Production of Scientific Disciplines

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