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On the Limitations of Biological Knowledge

[ Vol. 13 , Issue. 7 ]


Edward R. Dougherty and Ilya Shmulevich   Pages 574 - 587 ( 14 )


Scientific knowledge is grounded in a particular epistemology and, owing to the requirements of that epistemology, possesses limitations. Some limitations are intrinsic, in the sense that they depend inherently on the nature of scientific knowledge; others are contingent, depending on the present state of knowledge, including technology. Understanding limitations facilitates scientific research because one can then recognize when one is confronted by a limitation, as opposed to simply being unable to solve a problem within the existing bounds of possibility. In the hope that the role of limiting factors can be brought more clearly into focus and discussed, we consider several sources of limitation as they apply to biological knowledge: mathematical complexity, experimental constraints, validation, knowledge discovery, and human intellectual capacity.


Complexity, Gene regulatory networks, Epistemology, Experimental design, Genomics, Knowledge discovery, Modeling, Validation


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Texas A&M University, USA.

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