Extrapolating from model organisms in pharmacology
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Original versionIn: LaCaze A., Osimani B. (eds) Uncertainty in Pharmacology. Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science, 2020, 338, 59-78 https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-29179-2_3
In this chapter we explore the process of extrapolating causal claims from model organisms to humans in pharmacology. We describe and compare four strategies of extrapolation: enumerative induction, comparative process tracing, phylogenetic reasoning, and robustness reasoning. We argue that evidence of mechanisms plays a crucial role in several strategies for extrapolation and in the underlying logic of extrapolation: the more directly a strategy establishes mechanistic similarities between a model and humans, the more reliable the extrapolation. We present case studies from the research on atherosclerosis and the development of statins, that illustrate these strategies and the role of mechanistic evidence in extrapolation.