Causality, Teleology, and Thought Experiments in Biology

Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 46 (2):279-299 (2015)
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Abstract

Thought experiments de facto play many different roles in biology: economical, ethical, technical and so forth. This paper, however, is interested in whether there are any distinctive features of biological TEs as such. The question may be settled in the affirmative because TEs in biology have a function that is intimately connected with the epistemological and methodological status of biology. Peculiar to TEs in biology is the fact that the reflexive, typically human concept of finality may be profitably employed to discover mechanical-experimental causal relations in all living beings—with the obvious caveat that we do not hypostatise and interpret this concept as an ontological quality, since this would land one in an implicitly animistic, pre-Galilean view of nature. From a methodical point of view, the concept of finality is an essential assumption as well as a powerful heuristic tool in the practice of biology, that is, in the investigation of living beings in an intersubjectively testable and reproducible way

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Citations of this work

Thought Experiments.Yiftach J. H. Fehige & James R. Brown - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 25 (1):135-142.
Thought Experiments: State of the Art.Michael T. Stuart, Yiftach Fehige & James R. Brown - 2018 - In Michael T. Stuart, Yiftach Fehige & James Robert Brown (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 1-28.
Ørsted, Mach, and the history of ‘thought experiment’.Eleanor Helms - 2022 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 30 (5):837-858.

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