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Philosophy of Experimental Biology (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology)
عنوان کتاب: Philosophy of Experimental Biology (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology)
مولف: Marcel Weber
ناشر: Cambridge University Press
زبان: English
سال: 2004
شابک: 0521829453, 9780521829458, 9780511217104, 0511213506, 9780511211737, 0521143446, 9780521143448
حجم فایل: 2.5 MB
نوع فایل: pdf
تعداد صفحات: 376
Dr. Weber, as with most philosophers of biological science, including Ernst Mayr, is really invested in mechanism and cause and effect. Weber says Mayr's contribution to the subject concerns the distinction between proximate and ultimate causes. Although Mayr stated that hypothetico-deductivism was the hallmark of scientific method, he also averred that it was not appropriate for the biological sciences, as it was based upon the essentialism of the physical sciences. Weber does not address the truth table of hypothetico-deductive logic. Instead he dismisses what he calls the H-D account, introducing the proviso that it must be joined with 'additional assumptions' that act to render it problematic, pace Hempel. There is no requirement for this conjunction, and in fact it vitiates the power of H-D that has nothing to do with 'additional assumptions'. These additional assumptions are the result of attempts to salvage a theory that is based upon the facts, not one that predicts the facts on the basis of deduction from a mathematical model. An example of this is Kleiber's Law. The law, based upon archaic data involving the study of heat generation and lapse, is faced with numerous exceptions and deviations, as new data emerges based in which the study of metabolism concerns, not thermogenesis, but oxygen and sugar consumption. The Law's defenders are scrambling for assumptions that will rescue it from the graveyard of irrelevance. The Law itself is not revised. Being based upon old facts it is said to 'predict', it cannot accommodate new facts. This is not a weakness of H-D. This is a weakness of Kleiber's Law. That new facts cannot rescue it, but instead add to its irrelevance, is not due to weakness in H-D logic, but instead to the definition of metabolism that does not exclude thermogenesis as an integral part. Biological researchers have opted for modus ponens over modus tollens, something that would make Karl Popper role over in his grave. The reasons they do this is that biological researchers prefer to base their theories on the facts. They then turn around and say the theory 'predicts' the facts, in some fey meaning of the word 'predict' that is both retrospective and necessitative of supplementary assumptions that will allow the assimilation of the exceptions and deviations. Again, the weakness is not with H-D, but with the belief that modus ponens is acceptable for biology, though anathema to the physical sciences. Weber spends time explaining how the chemiosmotic theory of Mitchell was a breakthrough in insisting that chemical intermediates for the synthesis of ATP were not necessary. "According to Mitchell, the energy released by respiration is used by the respiratory enzymes to transport protons across the mitochondrial membrane. Thus, a gradient would build up across the membrane, composed of an electric potential (because protons are positively charged) and of an osmotic component (because of the concentration difference between the two sides of the membrane." (p.94) And at this point we see Weber's complete lack of understanding of the subject matter of the Nernst equation, and of the basic physics of electromagnetism. This is to be expected from biologists and those who love them. Nernst is used to explain both the electrical potential and the concentration gradient, despite that the author of the equation, Walther Nernst, clearly stated the equation was about thermodynamics, and not about electricity. Nernst used the term 'volt' to describe entropic pressure. In 1902 Bernstein, in what was clearly a case of 'meaning invariance', took 'volt' to be a measure of electrical pressure. The result was that biologists thought they had a leg up on the physicists in 1902. They understood electricity, the physicists did not. This was complete crap. Now Weber is pushing it, saying Mitchell new what he was talking about. "According to Mitchell, the energy released by respiration [we must remember that chemical energy is precisely defined by physics in terms of coulombs, regardless of the releasing agent] is used by the respiratory enzymes to transport protons across the mitochondrial membrane." Bertil Hille, a sycophantic disciple of Mitchell, speaks of ion currents measurable in 'amperes' {Ion Channels of Excitable Membranes}, a term reserved for electron flow, in the physical sciences. In those sciences there is no such thing as an ion current. The movement of ions is R in Ohm's Law, not I [V=IR]. This is Richard Feynman speaking here, in his lectures on physics, the section of ionic diffusion. Hille, Mitchell, Weber...they all believe R is measurable in amperes, not Ohms. Who are these guys? Why don't they know physics? Weber goes on to say, "Thus a gradient would build up across the membrane, composed of an electric potential (because protons are positively charged [which means nothing, and is a non sequitur, but something we can expect from a biologist]), and of an osmotic component (because of the concentration difference between the two side of the membrane)." And this is the standard, biological confabulation of what Nernst was about, despite that Nernst had nothing to say about electricity. The idea that an electrical potential was involved over and above the charge carried by the ions, was an idea totally and speciously introduced by Bernstein [1902] to Nernst [1888]. It has no basis in the equation, and is the contribution of a man who knew nothing about electricity as it is known today. The acceptance of Mitchell's hypothesis, again not exposed to the dangers of H-D, which would have rendered it risible, was assured by the oafishness of the Nobel Prize Committee which sought to disarm the heat it got for the award to Eccles, Hodgkin, and Huxley, fifteen years earlier [1963] for a version of the electricity of the nerve impulse that was so lame that Eccles, 30 years later, said was wrong. But Weber says nothing of this. He's writing a book for the true biological believer. He even describes, in other work, this preposterous and sciolistic model of the electricity and biological energy, as paradigmatic of the use of physico-chemical laws, by biology, to arrive at a solid, scientific explanation of bioenergetics. Given that pH is involved in determining the value of R in Ohm's Law, we can dismiss the alleged proofs of Jagendorf, cited by Weber, as corroborating Mitchell's account, proofs that involved an 'acid bath', that the operative mechanism was a proton current. The phenomenon is electrochemical, not one due to 'proticity', as Mitchell called it. Weber too speaks of proton conductance, as if it were electricity, conveniently ignoring I or amperage, where proton conductance is the dependent upon the flow of water in narrow tubes [ion channels], as described by Hille [Ion Channels of Excitable Membrane]. Hille, Mitchell, Jagendorf, Deamer, Racker, Stoeckenisu, Weber...they all believe that the movement of protons is so analogous to electricity that it can even be detected as such by instrumentation designed to detect electricity - but its not! Weber paints it like the dispute was between the chemical and the chemiosmotic accounts for phosphorylation, when neither was true. Instead it was the ELECTROCHEMICAL account of phosphorylation, an account totally missing from the dispute. This is because biology never made the leap to the quantum world that came along twenty years after Bernstein's 1902 hypothesis arrogating the Nernst equation to a Rube-Goldberg version of bioelectricity. This book is worthless, unless one wants to get ahead in a field like neuroscience or bioenergetics that has no clinical relevance whatsoever, a field whose perpetuation is driven entirely by catechetical authority in the academy. Sure, using it as a reference might help you make the grade in school, but you can't do anything with it after that.
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