Causal regularities in the biological world of contingent distributions

Biology and Philosophy 13 (1):5-36 (1998)
Former discussions of biological generalizations have focused on the question of whether there are universal laws of biology. These discussions typically analyzed generalizations out of their investigative and explanatory contexts and concluded that whatever biological generalizations are, they are not universal laws. The aim of this paper is to explain what biological generalizations are by shifting attention towards the contexts in which they are drawn. I argue that within the context of any particular biological explanation or investigation, biologists employ two types of generations. One type identifies causal regularities exhibited by particular kinds of biological entities. The other type identifies how these entities are distributed in the biological world.
Keywords causal  contingent  distribution  essentialism  explanation  generalization  kind  law  regularity  ultimate and proximate explanation  universal
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DOI 10.1023/A:1006572017907
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C. Kenneth Waters (2004). What Was Classical Genetics? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 35 (4):783-809.
Daryn Lehoux (2006). Laws of Nature and Natural Laws. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (4):527-549.

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