There may be strict empirical laws in biology, after all

Biology and Philosophy 21 (1):119-134 (2006)
This paper consists of four parts. Part 1 is an introduction. Part 2 evaluates arguments for the claim that there are no strict empirical laws in biology. I argue that there are two types of arguments for this claim and they are as follows: (1) Biological properties are multiply realized and they require complex processes. For this reason, it is almost impossible to formulate strict empirical laws in biology. (2) Generalizations in biology hold contingently but laws go beyond describing contingencies, so there cannot be strict laws in biology. I argue that both types of arguments fail. Part 3 considers some examples of biological laws in recent biological research and argues that they exemplify strict laws in biology. Part 4 considers the objection that the examples in part 3 may be strict laws but they are not distinctively biological laws. I argue that given a plausible account of what distinctively biological means, such laws are distinctively biological.
Keywords Biology  Complexity  Distinctively biological  Multiple realization  Special sciences  Strict laws
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