David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Ever since Darwin a great deal of the conceptual history of biology may be read as a struggle between two philosophical positions: reductionism and holism. On the one hand, we have the reductionist claim that evolution has to be understood in terms of changes at the fundamental causal level of the gene. As Richard Dawkins famously put it, organisms are just ‘lumbering robots’ in the service of their genetic masters. On the other hand, there is a long holistic tradition that focuses on the complexity of developmental systems, on the non-linearity of gene– environment interactions, and on multi-level selective processes to argue that the full story of biology is a bit more complicated than that. Reductionism can marshal on its behalf the spectacular successes of genetics and molecular biology throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Holism has built on the development of entirely new disciplines and conceptual frameworks over the past few decades, including evo-devo and phenotypic plasticity. Yet, a number of biologists are still actively looking for a way out of the reductionism–holism counterposition, often mentioning the word ‘emergence’ as a way to deal with the conundrum. This paper briefly examines the philosophical history of the concept of emergence, distinguishes between epistemic and ontological accounts of it, and comments on conceptions of emergence that can actually be useful for practising evolutionary biologists.
|Keywords||holism reductionism evo-devo|
|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
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Charles T. Wolfe (2012). Chance Between Holism and Reductionism: Tensions in the Conceptualisation of Life. Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology.
Jason Scott Robert (2002). How Developmental is Evolutionary Developmental Biology? Biology and Philosophy 17 (5):591-611.
Arthur Zucker (1981). Holism and Reductionism: A View From Genetics. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 6 (2):145-164.
Donato Bergandi & Patrick Blandin (1998). Holism Vs. Reductionism: Do Ecosystem Ecology and Landscape Ecology Clarify the Debate? Acta Biotheoretica 46 (3):185-206.
Andreas Hüttemann (2005). Explanation, Emergence and Quantum-Entanglement. Philosophy of Science 72 (1):114-127.
Stavros Ioannidis (2008). How Development Changes Evolution: Conceptual and Historical Issues in Evolutionary Developmental Biology. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 23 (4):567-578.
Alexander Rosenberg (2006). Darwinian Reductionism, or, How to Stop Worrying and Love Molecular Biology. University of Chicago Press.
Lindsay R. Craig (2009). Defending Evo‐Devo: A Response to Hoekstra and Coyne. Philosophy of Science 76 (3):335-344.
Peter A. Corning (2012). The Re-Emergence of Emergence, and the Causal Role of Synergy in Emergent Evolution. Synthese 185 (2):295-317.
Frank E. Budenholzer (2004). Emergence, Probability, and Reductionism. Zygon 39 (2):339-356.
Andrew Kenneth Jorgensen (2009). Holism, Communication, and the Emergence of Public Meaning: Lessons From an Economic Analogy. Philosophia 37 (1):133-147.
Karsten R. Stueber (1997). Holism and Radical Interpretation: The Limitations of a Formal Theory of Meaning. In Analyomen 2, Volume II: Philosophy of Language, Metaphysics. Hawthorne: De Gruyter.
Michael P. Nelson (2010). Teaching Holism in Environmental Ethics. Environmental Ethics 32 (1):33-49.
Rachael L. Brown (2013). What Evolvability Really Is. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (3):axt014.
Ned Block (1995). Ruritania Revisited. Philosophical Issues 6:171-187.
Added to index2013-04-23
Total downloads628 ( #331 of 1,696,221 )
Recent downloads (6 months)64 ( #2,070 of 1,696,221 )
How can I increase my downloads?