Popper, falsifiability, and evolutionary biology

Biology and Philosophy 11 (2):161-191 (1996)
Abstract
First, a brief history is provided of Popper's views on the status of evolutionary biology as a science. The views of some prominent biologists are then canvassed on the matter of falsifiability and its relation to evolutionary biology. Following that, I argue that Popper's programme of falsifiability does indeed exclude evolutionary biology from within the circumference of genuine science, that Popper's programme is fundamentally incoherent, and that the correction of this incoherence results in a greatly expanded and much more realistic concept of what is empirical, resulting in the inclusion of evolutionary biology. Finally, this expanded concept of empirical is applied to two particular problems in evolutionary biology — viz., the species problem and the debate over the theory of punctuated equilibria — and it is argued that both of them are still mainly metaphysical.
Keywords Popper  falsifiability  evolutionary biology  species problem  punctuated equilibria
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