There may be strict empirical laws in biology, after all

Biology and Philosophy 21 (1):119-134 (2006)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

This paper consists of four parts. Part 1 is an introduction. Part 2 evaluates arguments for the claim that there are no strict empirical laws in biology. I argue that there are two types of arguments for this claim and they are as follows: (1) Biological properties are multiply realized and they require complex processes. For this reason, it is almost impossible to formulate strict empirical laws in biology. (2) Generalizations in biology hold contingently but laws go beyond describing contingencies, so there cannot be strict laws in biology. I argue that both types of arguments fail. Part 3 considers some examples of biological laws in recent biological research and argues that they exemplify strict laws in biology. Part 4 considers the objection that the examples in part 3 may be strict laws but they are not distinctively biological laws. I argue that given a plausible account of what distinctively biological means, such laws are distinctively biological.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 93,127

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Sober and Elgin on laws of biology: A critique. [REVIEW]Lane DesAutels - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (2):249-256.
Gould on laws in biological science.Lee Mcintyre - 1997 - Biology and Philosophy 12 (3):357-367.
Laws in biology.Réjane Bernier - 1983 - Acta Biotheoretica 32 (4):265-288.
Biology and a priori laws.Mehmet Elgin - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1380--1389.
Stability and lawlikeness.Jani Raerinne - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (5):833-851.
Mathematical biology and the existence of biological laws.Mauro Dorato - 2012 - In D. Dieks, S. Hartmann, T. Uebel & M. Weber (eds.), Probabilities, Laws and Structure. Springer.
Laws of biological design: A reply to John Beatty.Gregory J. Morgan - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (3):379-389.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
14 (#1,020,370)

6 months
350 (#5,738)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

The Ontic Account of Scientific Explanation.Carl F. Craver - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver R. Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the Special Sciences: The Case of Biology and History. Springer Verlag. pp. 27-52.
Shifting to structures in physics and biology: A prophylactic for promiscuous realism.Steven French - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (2):164-173.
Gould’s replay revisited.Derek D. Turner - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (1):65-79.

View all 26 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Laws and symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The scientific image.C. Van Fraassen Bas - 1980 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Science without laws.Ronald N. Giere - 1999 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

View all 42 references / Add more references