PhilSci Archive

Active Biological Mechanisms: Transforming Energy into Motion in Molecular Motors

Bechtel, William and Bollhagen, Andrew (2021) Active Biological Mechanisms: Transforming Energy into Motion in Molecular Motors. [Preprint]

[img]
Preview
Text
Molecular Motors--final for distribution.pdf

Download (3MB) | Preview

Abstract

Unless one embraces activities as foundational, understanding activities in mechanisms requires an account of the means by which entities in biological mechanisms engage in their activities—an account that does not merely explain activities in terms of more basic entities and activities. Recent biological research on molecular motors (myosin and kinesin) exemplifies such an account, one that explains activities in terms of free energy and constraints. After describing the characteristic “stepping” activities of these molecules and mapping the stages of those steps onto the stages of the motors’ hydrolytic cycles, researchers pieced together from images of the molecules in different hydrolyzation states accounts of how the chemical energy in ATP is transformed in the constrained environments of the motors into the characteristic activities of the motors. We argue that New Mechanism’s standard set of analytic categories—entities (parts), activities (operations), and organization—should be expanded to include constraints and energetics. Not only is such an expansion required descriptively to capture research on molecular motors but, more importantly from a philosophical point of view, it enables a non-regressive account of activities in mechanisms. In other words, this expansion enables a philosophical account of mechanistic explanation that avoids a regress of entities and activities “all the way down.” Rather, mechanistic explanation bottoms out in constraints and energetics.


Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Bechtel, Williamwbechtel@ucsd.edu
Bollhagen, Andrewabollhag@ucsd.edu
Keywords: Mechanistic explanation, activities, energetics, constraints, molecular motors
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Professor William Bechtel
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2021 03:43
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2021 03:43
Item ID: 19405
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > Explanation
Date: 3 August 2021
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19405

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item