What is wrong with typological thinking?

Philosophy of Science 76 (3):355-371 (2009)
What, if anything, is wrong with typological thinking? The question is important, for some evolutionary developmental biologists appear to espouse a form of typology. I isolate four allegations that have been brought against it. They include the claim that typological thinking is mystical; the claim that typological thinking is at odds with the fact of evolution; the claim that typological thinking is committed to an objectionable metaphysical view, which Elliott Sober calls the ‘natural state model’; and finally the view (endorsed by Ron Amundson and Günter Wagner) that typological thinking—and specifically evolutionary developmental biology’s typological thinking—is committed to a peculiar form of causation that does not fit neatly into the causal models endorsed by population genetics. I argue that, properly understood, the typological thinking of evolutionary developmental biology does not run into any of these problems. *Received April 2008; revised August 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, CB2 3RH Cambridge, United Kingdom; e‐mail: tml1000@cam.ac.uk.
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Tim Lewens (2012). Human Nature: The Very Idea. Philosophy and Technology 25 (4):459-474.
Tim Lewens (2012). Species, Essence and Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (4):751-757.
Phillip Honenberger (2015). Grene and Hull on Types and Typological Thinking in Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 50:13-25.
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