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Explaining and Intervening in Biosocial Science

DiMarco, Marina (2023) Explaining and Intervening in Biosocial Science. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Biosocial scientists claim to improve our understanding of health disparities by integrating social and biological causes of human health and behavior. While many philosophers, sociologists, and historians of science embrace the liberatory promise of biosocial science for the design of clinical interventions and public health policy, others are skeptical. As feminist science scholars Dorothy Roberts, Victoria Pitts-Taylor, and Sarah Richardson point out, the “new biosocial science” often reproduces biologically deterministic explanations of health and behavior that mark marginalized individuals as hard-wired or programmed for pathology. As a result, the subjects of explanation in new biosocial science are often targeted for individualistic interventions, and social determinants of health mysteriously disappear into the background. This project forensically analyzes the disappearance of social causes from biosocial explanations. To begin, I characterize and parse the heterogeneity of biosocial science to focus on a specific genre of these explanations: those which ask how social causes “get under the skin” to become embodied in molecular terms. In the rest of the dissertation, I interrogate the values in, and of, these questions and competing answers to them. My approach draws from feminist science studies, feminist philosophy of science, and work on science and values to embrace pragmatic, social, and political dimensions of explanatory success. This is only fitting for a science that is itself marked by, and conscious of, its own political implications, past and present.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
DiMarco, Marinamarina.dimarco@pitt.edumrd96
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDietrich, Michaelmrd98@pitt.edumrd98
Committee MemberMitchell,
Committee MemberFuller, Jonathanjpf53@pitt.edujpf53
Committee MemberRichardson,
Date: 6 September 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 20 July 2023
Approval Date: 6 September 2023
Submission Date: 30 July 2023
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 172
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: biosocial, explanation, values in science
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2023 14:27
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2023 14:27

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