On models of carcinogenesis and middle range theories. Reflections on Vineis

Raffaella Campaner


In his “A Brief History of Models of Carcinogenesis” (this volume) Paolo Vi- neis deals with models of carcinogenesis that have been elaborated from the Fifties to date. The paper presents three models that have been the leading paradigms in cancer research, focusing especially on the third one, advanced most recently, which puts an emphasis on non-genotoxic effects and fitness of cells, and might act he claims as a unifying theory of various biological phenomena. Starting from some of Vineis’ considerations on medical theories and causation presented both here and elsewhere this contribution addresses some general epistemological issues regarding so-labelled “middle range theo- ries” and the construction of mechanistic models, which are being extensively used in contemporary research on carcinogenesis.

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