What was classical genetics?

I present an account of classical genetics to challenge theory-biased approaches in the philosophy of science. Philosophers typically assume that scientific knowledge is ultimately structured by explanatory reasoning and that research programs in well-established sciences are organized around efforts to fill out a central theory and extend its explanatory range. In the case of classical genetics, philosophers assume that the knowledge was structured by T. H. Morgan’s theory of transmission and that research throughout the later 1920s, 30s, and 40s was organized around efforts to further validate, develop, and extend this theory. I show that classical genetics was structured by an integration of explanatory reasoning and investigative strategies . The investigative strategies, which have been overlooked in historical and philosophical accounts, were as important as the so-called laws of Mendelian genetics. By the later 1920s, geneticists of the Morgan school were no longer organizing research around the goal of explaining inheritance patterns; rather, they were using genetics to investigate a range of biological phenomena that extended well beyond the explanatory domain of transmission theories. Theory-biased approaches in history and philosophy of science fail to reveal the overall structure of scientific knowledge and obscure the way it functions.Author Keywords: Investigation; Genetic approach; Structure of knowledge; Classical genetics.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2004.03.018
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
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
C. Kenneth Waters (1994). Genes Made Molecular. Philosophy of Science 61 (2):163-185.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Paul E. Griffiths & Karola Stotz (2006). Genes in the Postgenomic Era. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 27 (6):499-521.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Arthur Zucker (1981). Holism and Reductionism: A View From Genetics. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 6 (2):145-164.
C. Kenneth Waters (1994). Genes Made Molecular. Philosophy of Science 61 (2):163-185.
Peter Gildenhuys (2014). Arbitrariness and Causation in Classical Population Genetics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (3):429-444.
Wolfgang Balzer & Pablo Lorenzano (2000). The Logical Structure of Classical Genetics. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 31 (2):243-266.
A. Lindenmayer & N. Simon (1980). The Formal Structure of Genetics and the Reduction Problem. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:160 - 170.
Lyle Jenkins (1979). The Genetics of Language. Linguistics and Philosophy 3 (1):105 - 119.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

48 ( #71,402 of 1,727,288 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #211,519 of 1,727,288 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.