Laws and Explanations in Biology and Chemistry: Philosophical Perspectives and Educational Implications

In Michael R. Matthews (ed.), International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching. Springer. pp. 1203-1233 (2014)

This chapter utilises scholarship in philosophy of biology and philosophy of chemistry to produce meaningful implications for biology and chemistry education. The primary purpose for studying philosophical literature is to identify different perspectives on the nature of laws and explanations within these disciplines. The goal is not to resolve ongoing debates about the nature of laws and explanations but to consider their multiple forms and purposes in ways that promote deep and practical understanding of biological and chemical knowledge in educational contexts. Most studies on the nature of science in science education tend to focus on general features of scientific knowledge and underemphasise disciplinary nuances. The authors aim to contribute to science education research by focusing on the characterisations of laws and explanations in biology and chemistry in the philosophical literature and illustrating how the typical coverage of biology and chemistry textbooks does not problematise meta-perspectives on the nature of laws and explanations. The chapter concludes with suggestions for making science teaching, learning and curriculum more inclusive of the epistemological dimensions of biology and chemistry.
Keywords Laws and Explanation in Biology  Laws and Explanation in Chemistry  Science Education  Philosophy of Biology  Philosophy of Chemistry
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