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Function and organization: comparing the mechanisms of protein synthesis and natural selection.

Illari, PM; Williamson, J; (2010) Function and organization: comparing the mechanisms of protein synthesis and natural selection. Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci , 41 (3) 279 - 291. 10.1016/j.shpsc.2010.07.001.

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Abstract

In this paper, we compare the mechanisms of protein synthesis and natural selection. We identify three core elements of mechanistic explanation: functional individuation, hierarchical nestedness or decomposition, and organization. These are now well understood elements of mechanistic explanation in fields such as protein synthesis, and widely accepted in the mechanisms literature. But Skipper and Millstein have argued (2005) that natural selection is neither decomposable nor organized. This would mean that much of the current mechanisms literature does not apply to the mechanism of natural selection. We take each element of mechanistic explanation in turn. Having appreciated the importance of functional individuation, we show how decomposition and organization should be better understood in these terms. We thereby show that mechanistic explanation by protein synthesis and natural selection are more closely analogous than they appear--both possess all three of these core elements of a mechanism widely recognized in the mechanisms literature.

Type:Article
Title:Function and organization: comparing the mechanisms of protein synthesis and natural selection.
Location:England
DOI:10.1016/j.shpsc.2010.07.001
Language:English
Keywords:Biology, Protein Biosynthesis, Selection, Genetic
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Science and Technology Studies

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