Consolidation of experimental science has brought about a triumph of the analytic perspective that decomposes nature in order to understand its molecular instances. This methodological approach reinforced the reductionism that has dominated empirical research in biomedicine over the last century. Cancer research constitutes an example. Nevertheless the evolution of the interpretative models of its etiopathogenesis shows how different levels of biological organization might be involved in cancer origin and progression. New models have been challenging traditional reductionism, moving towards a systemic view that is posing an epistemological stance in cancer research, revealing the potentialities beyond a synthetic perspective in studying biological phenomena and showing how the level of causal explanation become crucial to understand cancer. A new reflection of the philosophy of causation seems thus to be required through an integration of the two perspectives, in order to provide a comprehensive causal account of the neoplastic process.

The two sides of the hourglass: analytic and synthetic approaches in cancer research

Bertolaso M
2011-01-01

Abstract

Consolidation of experimental science has brought about a triumph of the analytic perspective that decomposes nature in order to understand its molecular instances. This methodological approach reinforced the reductionism that has dominated empirical research in biomedicine over the last century. Cancer research constitutes an example. Nevertheless the evolution of the interpretative models of its etiopathogenesis shows how different levels of biological organization might be involved in cancer origin and progression. New models have been challenging traditional reductionism, moving towards a systemic view that is posing an epistemological stance in cancer research, revealing the potentialities beyond a synthetic perspective in studying biological phenomena and showing how the level of causal explanation become crucial to understand cancer. A new reflection of the philosophy of causation seems thus to be required through an integration of the two perspectives, in order to provide a comprehensive causal account of the neoplastic process.
cancer research; reductionism; biological complexity
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12610/7788
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