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The Why of ThingsCausality in Science, Medicine, and Life$
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Peter Rabins

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164726

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164726.001.0001

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The Biological Sciences

(p.97) 7 Empirical
The Why of Things

Peter V. Rabins

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the application of the empirical method to the study of causality by focusing on the biological sciences. In particular, it considers the nature-nurture debate and gene-environment interactions, the application of causal knowledge to the goal of eradicating specific infectious diseases such as plague and influenza, and the emerging discipline of ecology to illustrate the application of the empirical method and its interaction with Facet 2's level of analysis and Facet 1's causative models. The chapter also provides examples of how genetic variation can influence vulnerability to disease and concludes with a discussion of the directionality of time and the concept of chance, along with generalizations about causality in biology.

Keywords:   empirical method, causality, biology, nature-nurture, gene-environment interactions, infectious diseases, ecology, genetic variation, directionality of time, chance

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