Teleology then and now: The question of Kant's relevance for contemporary controversies over function in biology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 37 (4):748-770 (2006)
|Abstract||Kant -- drawing on his eighteenth-century predecessors -- provided a discerning and powerful characterization of what biologists had to explain in organic form. His difference from the rest is that he opined that was impossible to explain it. Its ’inscrutability’ was intrinsic. The third ’Critique’ essentially proposed the reduction of biology to a kind of prescientific descriptivism, doomed never to attain authentic scientificity. By contrast, for Locke, and ’a fortiori’ for Buffon and his followers, ’intrinsic purposiveness’ was a fact of the matter about concrete biological phenomena; the features of internal self-regulation were hypotheses arising out of actual research practice. The difference comes most vividly to light once we recognize Kant’s distinction of the concept of organism from the concept of life. (edited)|
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