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History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences

Philosophy of Cancer

A Dynamic and Relational View

Authors: Bertolaso, Marta

  • First book describing the relevance of cancer research for epistemology
  • Contains graphic representation of the historical evolution of models of carcinogenesis that enables the reader to follow the overall argument  Overview of the two key theories about carcinogenesis that confront each other in the literature   ​
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  • ISBN 978-94-024-0865-2
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  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
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  • ISBN 978-94-024-0863-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
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About this book

Since the 1970s, the origin of cancer is being explored from the point of view of the Somatic Mutation Theory (SMT), focusing on genetic mutations and clonal expansion of somatic cells. As cancer research expanded in several directions, the dominant focus on cells remained steady, but the classes of genes and the kinds of extra-genetic factors that were shown to have causal relevance in the onset of cancer multiplied. The wild heterogeneity of cancer-related mutations and phenotypes, along with the increasing complication of models, led to an oscillation between the hectic search of ‘the’ few key factors that cause cancer and the discouragement in face of a seeming ‘endless complexity’. To tame this complexity, cancer research started to avail itself of the tools that were being developed by Systems Biology. At the same time, anti-reductionist voices began claiming that cancer research was stuck in a sterile research paradigm. This alternative discourse even gave birth to an alternative theory: the Tissue Organization Field Theory (TOFT). A deeper philosophical analysis shows limits and possibilities of reductionist and anti-reductionist positions and of their polarization. This book demonstrates that a radical philosophical reflection is necessary to drive cancer research out of its impasses. At the very least, this will be a reflection on the assumptions of different kinds of cancer research, on the implications of what cancer research has been discovering over 40 years and more, on a view of scientific practice that is most able to make sense of the cognitive and social conflicts that are seen in the scientific community (and in its results), and, finally, on the nature of living entities with which we entertain this fascinating epistemological dance that we call scientific research. The proposed Dynamic and Relational View of carcinogenesis is a starting point in all these directions.

About the authors

Marta Bertolaso is Assistant Professor for Philosophy of Science at University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome, Italy. After a degree in Biological Sciences and some years in the lab, she developed her academic career in the Philosophy of Life Sciences. Her expertise in philosophy of cancer, scientific practice and philosophy of complex organized systems has allowed her to collaborate with various journals and to publish monographs and papers sometimes in collaboration with established scientists. Supported by Visiting or Scholar Fellowships, she has worked in prestigious international research centres for Philosophy of Science including Pittsburgh (PA, USA), Exeter (UK), Paris (France) and the European Oncology Institute (IEO). She promotes and coordinates an international and interdisciplinary research network, participates in funded national and international research and educational projects. Lecturer for philosophy and epistemology in scientific practice in different courses at Campus Bio-Medico, she has been giving seminars and talks in different Universities and countries.

Table of contents (8 chapters)

  • Cancer Biology

    Bertolaso, Marta

    Pages 1-16

  • The Evolution of Explanatory Models of Cancer

    Bertolaso, Marta

    Pages 17-41

  • The Systemic Approach to Cancer: Models and Epistemology

    Bertolaso, Marta

    Pages 43-59

  • The Tissue Organization Field Theory and the Anti-reductionist Campaign

    Bertolaso, Marta

    Pages 61-84

  • Towards a Relational Ontology for Cancer

    Bertolaso, Marta

    Pages 85-108

Buy this book

eBook $69.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-94-024-0865-2
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-94-024-0863-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Philosophy of Cancer
Book Subtitle
A Dynamic and Relational View
Authors
Series Title
History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences
Series Volume
18
Copyright
2016
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright Holder
Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
eBook ISBN
978-94-024-0865-2
DOI
10.1007/978-94-024-0865-2
Hardcover ISBN
978-94-024-0863-8
Series ISSN
2211-1948
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XV, 190
Number of Illustrations and Tables
13 illustrations in colour
Topics