Review of In Search of Mechanisms: Discoveries across the Life Sciences

Tetsuji Iseda
Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University

        As a former student of one of the authors and friend of the other, it was a very delightful experience to read this new book. This book is a substantial addition to the topic the authors have been working on for the last fifteen years or so, namely the role of mechanisms in science, especially biological sciences.

        This book has a distinctive aim; according to the authors, the "primary goal" of this book "is to write a practically useful book for those engaged in discovery," which means that the book is not primarily for philosophers. As such, this book seems very successful; it offers many practical tips for thinking about (finding, revising, etc.) mechanisms. Maybe each tip is not very novel, but the way these tips are presented, i.e. the organization of the items, makes this book useful for those who want to have an overview of available means for searching mechanisms. The diverse historical examples will also give numerous hints for those who have similar predicaments as the scientists in the stories (and of course the description of the historical cases are also interesting for philosophers too).

        Given that this book is not written for philosophers, philosophical faultfinding may not be appropriate. So, the following comments and questions are not meant to be criticisms of the book; I just want to have some chat with authors on the topics that come to my mind reading the book. ...