How does the history of microbiology call for a more integrative view of explanation in human gut microbiome research?
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
Integrated History and Philosophy of Science (&HPS9)
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
Human gut microbiome research is a growing field in microbiology and in philosophy.
Experimental studies have associated microbiomes with various healthy and diseased human phenotypes, but use various definitions of ?microbiome?. A collective recently attempted to define the microbiome as the microbiota ? the microorganisms ? and their ?theatre of activity?,all their activities and metabolites (Berg et al., 2020). Clear explanations are rendered difficult by such complex and multilevel systems. Scientific claims about causal microbiomes have initiated
philosophical discussions about explanations and in particular causal explanations in this domain.
So far, the main study assessing this issue is the one developed by Lynch and colleagues (Lynch et al., 2019). They use a key explanatory standard inherited from 1880s microbiology, the
Koch?s postulates, and a standard to establish causation in experimental science, the interventionist account to assess the strength of causal claims about the microbiomes. They conclude that few, if any, of these claims are causal.
Following these discussions, this work analyzes the history of microbiology to suggest an account of scientific explanation in the context of human gut microbiome research. I build my
argument on the realization that there is not a single understanding of explanation in microbiology. Focusing on Koch?s postulates and interventionism is legitimate but overlooks the existence of an important alternative: the mechanistic account of explanation.