Explaining Cancer

Explaining Cancer : Finding Order in Disorder

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In Explaining Cancer, Anya Plutynski addresses a variety of philosophical questions that arise in the context of cancer science and medicine. She begins with the following concerns:
BL How do scientists classify cancer? Do these classifications reflect nature's "joints"?
BL How do cancer scientists identify and classify early stage cancers?
BL What does it mean to say that cancer is a "genetic" disease? What role do genes play in "mechanisms for" cancer?
BL What are the most important environmental causes of cancer, and how do epidemiologists investigate these causes?
BL How exactly has our evolutionary history made us vulnerable to cancer?

Explaining Cancer uses these questions as an entree into a family of philosophical debates. It uses case studies of scientific practice to reframe philosophical debates about natural classification in science and medicine, the problem of drawing the line between disease and health, mechanistic reasoning in science, pragmatics and evidence, the roles of models and modeling in science, and the nature of scientific explanation.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 163 x 244 x 23mm | 504g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0199967458
  • 9780199967452

Table of contents


Chapter 1: Cancer: Natural, Social and Medical Kind
Chapter 2: From Disease to Risk
Chapter 3: Causation, Causal Selection and Causal Parity
Chapter 4: Evidence and Environmental Epidemiology: A Pragmatic Approach
Chapter 5: Explaining Cancer from an Evolutionary Perspective
Chapter 6: Explanation

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Review quote

a fascinating story of cancer research ... Anya Plutynski shows how looking at cancer from the philosophical angle can help shape our perception of what cancer is and how cancer biology and epidemiology work ... think the vast majority of readers will find the narrative gripping and will enjoy reading it. Indeed, if philosophy of medicine is a branch of philosophy, the philosophy of oncology is now a new twig that I will enjoy watching grow. * Olaf Dammann, Metascience * ...for those who care about philosophy of science, the book illustrates how cancer can be a rich case study. In addition, the systematic investigation of traditional philosophical debates applied to cancer that Plutynski pursues in this book makes it a great resource for teaching. For those who care about cancer, the book illustrates the need to develop more 'bottom up' philosophical approaches. * Lucie Laplane, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences *
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About Anya Plutynski

Anya Plutynski received her Ph.D. in Philosophy, and her M.A. in Biology, both from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently teaches philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis.
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Rating details

3 ratings
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3 33% (1)
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