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Discovering Cell Mechanisms: The Creation of Modern Cell Biology (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology)

Discovering Cell Mechanisms: The Creation of Modern Cell Biology (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology)

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William Bechtel
Cambridge University Press, 7/17/2008
EAN 9780521729444, ISBN10: 0521729440

Paperback, 336 pages, 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.9 cm
Language: English

Between 1940 and 1970 pioneers in the new field of cell biology discovered the operative parts of cells and their contributions to cell life. They offered mechanistic accounts that explained cellular phenomena by identifying the relevant parts of cells, the biochemical operations they performed, and the way in which these parts and operations were organised to accomplish important functions. Cell biology was a revolutionary science but in this book it also provides fuel for yet another revolution, one that focuses on the very conception of science itself. Laws have traditionally been regarded as the primary vehicle of explanation, but in the emerging philosophy of science it is mechanisms that do the explanatory work. Bechtel emphasises how mechanisms were discovered, focusing especially on the way in which new instruments made these inquiries possible. He also describes how new journals and societies provided institutional structure to this new enterprise.

Part I. Introduction
Cell Mechanisms and Cell Biology
1. A different kind of science
2. The organization of science into disciplines
3. The new discipline of cell biology
Part II. Explaining Cellular Phenomena through Mechanisms
4. Historical conceptions of mechanism
5. Twentieth century conceptions of mechanism
6. Current conceptions of mechanisms
7. Representing and reasoning about mechanisms
8. Levels of organization and reduction
9. Organization
from Cartesian to biological mechanisms
10. Discovering and testing models of mechanisms
11. Conclusions
Part III. The Locus of Cell Mechanisms
Terra Incognita Between Cytology and Biochemistry
12. Cytological contributions to discovering cell mechanisms up to 1940
13. Biochemical contributions to discovering cell mechanisms up to 1940
14. The need to enter the Terra Incognita between cytology and biochemistry
Part IV. Creating New Instruments and Research Techniques to Study Cell Mechanisms
15. The epistemology of evidence
judging artifacts
16. The ultracentrifuge and cell fractionation
17. The electron microscope and electron microscopy
18. A case study of an artifact charge
19. Equipped with new instruments and techniques to enter Terra Incognita
Part V. Entering the Terra Incognita Between Biochemistry and Cytology
20. First steps towards cell biology at the Rockefeller Institute
Claude's introduction of cell fractionation
21. Robert Bensley
an alternative approach to fractionalism
22. Competing interpretations of fractions from normal cells
23. Linking Claude's microsomes to protein synthesis
24. Adding a biochemical perspective to the Rockefeller Laboratory
25. Adding electron microscopy as a tool
26. The state of cell studies at the end of the 1940's
Part VI. New Knowledge
the Mechanisms of the Cytoplasm
27. The mitochondrion
28. Microsomes, the endoplasmic reticulum, and ribosomes
29. Two additional organelles
30. Giving cell biology an institutional identity.