The "Altenberg Workshops in Theoretical Biology" address key questions of biological theories. Each workshop is organized by leading experts of a certain field who invite a group of international specialists to the KLI. The Altenberg Workshops aim to make conceptual progress and to generate initiatives of a distinctly interdisciplinary nature.
Philosophers of science have traditionally approached scientific theories from an abstract point of view, aiming at reconstructing their logical structure with formal tools. In this paper, I shall argue in favor of an alternative approach to theorizing, taking seriously the idea that a theory has to serve a double function, namely a representational and an inferential function. As I shall argue, if one wants to understand the relation between these two functions, one has to pay attention both to the actual reasoning scientists do when they use and develop scientific hypotheses, and to the particular form under which these hypotheses are expressed. I shall show the fruitfulness of such an approach by applying it to an analysis of the invention and development of genetic maps in the 1920s.
Marion Vorms is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Institut d’Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques (IHPST, CNRS, Paris). She recently defended her PhD dissertation in philosophy of science, advocating a cognitive approach to scientific theories, and applying it to case studies in classical mechanics classical genetics.