Molecular-biological machines: a defense

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I offer a defense, albeit a qualified one, of machine analogies in biology, focusing on molecular contexts. The defense is rooted in my prior work (Levy in Philosopher’s Imprint 14(6), 2014), which construes the machine machine-likeness of a system as a matter of the extent to which it exhibits an internal division of labor. A concrete aim is to shore up the notion of molecular biological machines, paying special attention to processive molecular motors, such as Kinesin. But I will also try to show how the division of labor account gives us guidance more broadly, both about where and why machine analogies can be expected to prove helpful and about their limitations.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number36
JournalBiology and Philosophy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Analogies in science
  • Molecular machines
  • Power-stroke versus Brownian Ratchet

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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