Formal Biology and Compositional Biology as Two Kinds of Biological Theorizing

Dissertation, Indiana University, HPS (2003)
There are two fundamentally distinct kinds of biological theorizing. "Formal biology" focuses on the relations, captured in formal laws, among mathematically abstracted properties of abstract objects. Population genetics and theoretical mathematical ecology, which are cases of formal biology, thus share methods and goals with theoretical physics. "Compositional biology," on the other hand, is concerned with articulating the concrete structure, mechanisms, and function, through developmental and evolutionary time, of material parts and wholes. Molecular genetics, biochemistry, developmental biology, and physiology, which are examples of compositional biology, are in serious need of philosophical attention. For example, the very concept of a "part" is understudied in both philosophy of biology and philosophy of science. ;My dissertation is an attempt to clarify the distinction between formal biology and compositional biology and, in so doing, provide a clear philosophical analysis, with case studies, of compositional biology. Given the social, economic, and medical importance of compositional biology, understanding it is urgent. For my investigation, I draw on the philosophical fields of metaphysics and epistemology, as well as philosophy of biology and philosophy of science. I suggest new ways of thinking about some classic philosophy of science issues, such as modeling, laws of nature, abstraction, explanation, and confirmation. I hint at the relevance of my study of two kinds of biological theorizing to debates concerning the disunity of science
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 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 Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Formal Biology and Compositional Biology as Two Kinds of Biological Theorizing
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Patrick Forber (2005). Grounding the Big Picture. Biology and Philosophy 20 (4):913-923.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Michael Devitt (2011). Natural Kinds and Biological Realisms. In Michael O'Rourke, Joseph Keim Campbell & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints. MIT Press
Lee Mcintyre (1997). Gould on Laws in Biological Science. Biology and Philosophy 12 (3):357-367.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

372 ( #5,858 of 1,940,983 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

105 ( #1,803 of 1,940,983 )

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.