The Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to the Public Defense of the PhD Dissertation
‘Levels of Organisation in Scientific Practice’
Members of the Defense Committee:
Supervisor: Maria Kronfeldner
External examiner: Miles MacLeod, (University of Twente)
External examiner: Angela Potochnik (University of Cincinnati)
Chair: Michael Griffin
In this dissertation, I provide a new pluralistic analysis of levels of organisation with the aim of demonstrating the concept’s centrality to many forms of scientific practice and its role as a fruitful component in analyses of those practices. My account proposes that levels of organisation are collections of purpose-relative vertical and horizontal principles deployed as representative tools in the conceptualisation of a target system of inquiry. Further, I argue that, understood this way, the concept of levels of organisation serves as a lens through which to analyse key epistemic practices, specifically the manipulation, integration, and transfer of information of, and between, systems of inquiry. In the process of developing and defending my account, I examine the use of levels across a wide-range of cutting-edge research in the life sciences, including the Human Microbiome Project, cancer research, homeostatic processes of the human digestive system, and protein signaling networks. I argue that the plausibility of my account is evidenced in these diverse research fields and also demonstrate how levels of organisation can serve as a conceptual tool with which to illuminate key aspects of the dynamic and complex processes of knowledge production in the sciences.