Advertisement

Simplicity in Theory-Construction and Evaluation: The Case of the Chromosome Theory of Mendalian Inheritance

  • Marga Vicedo
Chapter
  • 129 Downloads
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 236)

Abstract

This paper analyzes the role played by the criterion of simplicity in the construction and evaluation of the Chromosome Theory of Mendelian Inheritance. First, I briefly discuss some views on simplicity held by philosophers. We can see that despite their different views on scientific methodology and epistemology, most of them consider simplicity as a substantive value that is used in science to choose between theories. Then I analyze the arguments used by scientists to evaluate the hypothesis that genes are pieces of chromosomes to see whether simplicity played any role in their decisions. My conclusion is that the simplicity of the hypothesis that identified the genes with the chromosomes was not taken as a reason to accept it. Finally, I argue that the unifying character of a hypothesis and the ontological and descriptive simplicity achieved by it, should not be taken as reasons for its plausibility.

Keywords

Mendelian Inheritance Chromosome Theory Logical Empiricist Unify Hypothesis Theory Appraisal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Boveri, Th., 1903, “Ueber die Konstitution der Chromatischen Kernsubstanz”, Verh. deutsch. zool. Ges. 13, 10–33.Google Scholar
  2. Boyd, R., 1985, “Observations, Explanatory Power, and Simplicity: Toward a Non-Humean Account”, in P. Achinstein and O. Hannaway (eds.), Observation, Experiment, and Hypothesis in Modern Physical Science, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachussets, 47–94.Google Scholar
  3. Brandt, R. & Kim, J., 1967, “The Logic of the Identity Theory”, The Journal of Philosophy 64, 515–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bridges, C. B., 1916, “Non-disjunction as Proof of the Chromosome Theory of Heredity”, Genetics 1, 1–52, 107–163Google Scholar
  5. Bruce R. Voeller, ed. The Chromosome Theory of Inheritance, Appleton Century Crofts, New York, 1968, 197–208.Google Scholar
  6. Bridges, C.B., 1914, “Direct Proof through Non-disjunction that the Sex-linked Genes of Drosophila are Borne by the X-Chromosome”, Science 40, 107–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Doncaster, L., 1910, Heredity in the Light of Recent Research, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  8. Forster, M. R., 1988, “Unification, Explanation, and the Composition of Causes in Newtonian Mechanics,” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 19, 55–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Friedman, M., 1974, “Explanation and Scientific Understanding”, The Journal of Philosophy 71, 5–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Goldschmidt, R. B., 1954, “Different Philosophies of Genetics”, Science 119, 703–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Goodman, N., 1958, “The Test of Simplicity”, Science 128, 1064–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Harré, R., 1960, An Introduction to the Logic of the Sciences (2nd edn., 1983 ), Macmillan, London.Google Scholar
  13. Hesse, M., 1974, The Structure of Scientific Inference, Macmillan, London.Google Scholar
  14. Kitcher, P., 1976, “Explanation, Conjunction, and Unification”, The Journal of Philosophy 73, 207–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kitcher, P., 1981, “Explanatory Unification”, Philosophy of Science 48, 507–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kuhn, T., 1970, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd edn. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  17. Lloyd, E., 1983, “The Nature of Darwin’s Support for the Theory of Natural Selection”, Philosophy of Science 50, 112–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Maxwell, N., 1974, “The Rationality of Scientific Discovery”, Philosophy of Science 41, 123–153, 247–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McAllister, J., 1991, “The Simplicity of Theories: Its Degree and Form”, Journal for General Philosophy of Science 22, 1–41.Google Scholar
  20. Miller, R., 1987, Fact and Method, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  21. Morgan, T. H., 1910, “Chromosomes and Heredity”, The American Naturalist 44, 449–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Morgan, T. H., 1911, “Random Segregation versus Coupling in Mendelian Inheritance”, Science 34, 384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Morgan, T. H., 1915, “Localization of the Hereditary Material in the Germ Cells”, National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings 1, 420–429.Google Scholar
  24. Morgan, T. H., 1917, “The Theory of the Gene”, The American Naturalist 51, 513–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Morgan, T. H., 1923, “On the Mechanism of Heredity”, Royal Society of London, Proceedings B94, 162–197.Google Scholar
  26. Morgan, T. H., Sturtevant, A. H., Muller, H. J., and Bridges, C. B., 1915, The Mechanism of Mendelian Heredity, Henry Holt, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Nickles, T., 1986, “Remarks on the Use of History as Evidence”, Synthese 69, 253–266.Google Scholar
  28. Popper, K., 1959, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Hutchinson, London.Google Scholar
  29. Quine, W., 1953, “On What There Is”, in From a Logical Point of View, Harper Torchbooks, New York.Google Scholar
  30. Quine, W., 1966, “Simple Theories of A Complex World”, in The Ways of Paradox and Other Essays, Random House, New York, 242–6.Google Scholar
  31. Ravin, A. W., 1965, The Evolution of Genetics, Academic Press, New York and London.Google Scholar
  32. Rudner, R., 1965, “An Introduction to Simplicity”, in D. Shapere (ed.), Philosophical Problems of Natural Science, MacMillan, London.Google Scholar
  33. Salmon, W., 1966, The Foundations of Scientific Inference,University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  34. Schaffner, K. F., 1974, “Logic of Discovery and Justification in Regulatory Genetics”, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 4, 349–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sober, E., 1975, Simplicity, Oxford University Press, Oxford.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sober, E., 1981, “The Principle of Parsimony”, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 32, 145–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sober, E., 1988, Reconstructing the Past: Parsimony, Evolution, and Inference, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachussets.Google Scholar
  38. Sturtevant, A. H., 1965, A History of Genetics, Harper & Row, New York.Google Scholar
  39. Sutton, W. S., 1902, “On the Morphology of the Chromosome Group of Brachystola magna, Biological Bulletin 4, 24–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sutton, W. S., 1903, “The Chromosomes in Heredity”, Biological Bulletin 4, 231–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Thagard, P. R., 1978, “The Best Explanation: Criteria for Theory Choice”, The Journal of Philosophy 75, 76–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. van Fraassen, B., 1980, The Scientific Image, Oxford University Press, Oxford.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Vicedo, M., 1990a, “The Chromosome Theory of Mendelian Inheritance: Explanation and Realism in Theory Construction”, in A. Fine, M. Forbes & L. Wessels (eds.), PSA 19901, 179–91.Google Scholar
  44. Vicedo, M., 1990b, “T. H. Morgan, Neither an Epistemological Empiricist nor a ‘Methodological’ Empiricist”, Biology and Philosophy 5, 293–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Vicedo M., 1991, “Realism and Simplicity in the Castle-East Debate on the Stability of the Hereditary Units: Rhetorical Devices versus Substantive Methodology”, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 22, 201–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wilson, E. B. 1914, “The Bearing of Cytological Research on Heredity”, Royal Society of London. Proceedings B 88, 333–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marga Vicedo
    • 1
  1. 1.Arizona State University WestUSA

Personalised recommendations