Theoretical modeling and biological laws

Philosophy of Science 63 (3):35 (1996)
Recent controversy over the existence of biological laws raises questions about the cognitive aims of theoretical modeling in that science. If there are no laws for successful theoretical models to approximate, then what is it that successful theories do? One response is to regard theoretical models as tools. But this instrumental reading cannot accommodate the explanatory role that theories are supposed to play. Yet accommodating the explanatory function, as articulated by Brandon and Sober for example, seems to involve us once again in a reliance on laws. The paper concludes that we must rethink both the nature of laws and theoretical explanation in biology
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