David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophy of Science 57 (4):575-593 (1990)
Advances in molecular biology have generally been taken to support the claim that biology is reducible to chemistry. I argue against that claim by looking in detail at a number of central results from molecular biology and showing that none of them supports reduction because (1) their basic predicates have multiple realizations, (2) their chemical realization is context-sensitive and (3) their explanations often presuppose biological facts rather than eliminate them. I then consider the heuristic and confirmational implications of irreducibility and argue that purely biochemical approaches are likely to be unsound and to be unable to confirm an important range of statements. I conclude by sketching criteria for scientific unity that do not entail reducibility and yet leave an important place for identifying underlying mechanisms. Molecular biology, properly understood, provides an excellent paradigm of non-reductive unity between different explanatory levels
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Alexander Powell & John Dupré (2009). From Molecules to Systems: The Importance of Looking Both Ways. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40 (1):54-64.
D. Gene Witmer (2003). Dupre's Anti-Essentialist Objection to Reductionism. Philosophical Quarterly 53 (211):181-200.
Luc Faucher & Pierre Poirier (2001). Psychologie Évolutionniste Et Théories Interdomaines. Dialogue 40 (03):453-.
Max Kistler (2005). Réduction «Rôle-Occupant», Réduction «Micro-Macro» Et Explication Réductrice a Priori. Dialogue 44 (2):225-248.
Similar books and articles
Sahotra Sarkar (ed.) (1996). The Philosophy and History of Molecular Biology: New Perspectives. Kluwer Academic.
Kenneth F. Schaffner (1994). Interactions Among Theory, Experiment, and Technology in Molecular Biology. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:192 - 205.
Alex Rosenberg & David Michael Kaplan (2005). How to Reconcile Physicalism and Antireductionism About Biology. Philosophy of Science 72 (1):43-68.
James Maclaurin (2011). Against Reduction. Biology and Philosophy 26 (1):151-158.
John R. Jungck (1982). Is the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis Robust Enough to Withstand the Challenge of Recent Discoveries in Molecular Biology and Molecular Evolution? PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:322 - 328.
Sylvia Culp & Philip Kitcher (1989). Theory Structure and Theory Change in Contemporary Molecular Biology. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 40 (4):459-483.
Joel B. Hagen (1999). Naturalists, Molecular Biologists, and the Challenges of Molecular Evolution. Journal of the History of Biology 32 (2):321 - 341.
Joseph D. Robinson (1992). Aims and Achievements of the Reductionist Approach in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology/Cell Biology: A Response to Kincaid. Philosophy of Science 59 (3):465-470.
Philippe De Backer, Danny De Waele & Linda Van Speybroeck (2010). Ins and Outs of Systems Biology Vis-À-Vis Molecular Biology: Continuation or Clear Cut? Acta Biotheoretica 58 (1).
Tudor M. Baetu (2011). Mechanism Schemas and the Relationship Between Biological Theories. In Phyllis McKay Illari Federica Russo (ed.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads22 ( #83,055 of 1,101,944 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #52,474 of 1,101,944 )
How can I increase my downloads?