There is a growing interest in mathematical mechanistic modelling as a promising strategy for understanding tumour progression. This approach is accompanied by a methodological change of making research, in which models help to actively generate hypotheses instead of waiting for general principles to become apparent once sufficient data are accumulated. This paper applies recent research from philosophy of science to uncover three important problems of mechanistic modelling which may compromise its mainstream application, namely: the dilemma of formal and informal descriptions, the need to express degrees of confidence and the need of an argumentation framework. We report experience and research on similar problems from software engineering and provide evidence that the solutions adopted there can be transferred to the biological domain. We hope this paper can provoke new opportunities for further and profitable interdisciplinary research in the field.
Cañete-Valdeón, J. M., Wieringa, R. J., & Smallbone, K. (2012). Mechanistic modelling of cancer: some reflections from software engineering and philosophy of science. Naturwissenschaften, 99(12), 973-983. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-012-0991-4