The semantic approach to evolutionary theory

Biology and Philosophy 6 (1):59-80 (1991)

Abstract

Paul Thompson, John Beatty, and Elisabeth Lloyd argue that attempts to resolve certain conceptual issues within evolutionary biology have failed because of a general adherence to the received view of scientific theories. They maintain that such issues can be clarified and resolved when one adopts a semantic approach to theories. In this paper, I argue that such conceptual issues are just as problematic on a semantic approach. Such issues arise from the complexity involved in providing formal accounts of theoretical laws and scientific explanations. That complexity is due to empirical and pragmatic considerations, not one's adherence to a particular formal approach to theories. This analysis raises a broader question. How can any formal account properly represent the complex nature of empirical phenomena?

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Marc Ereshefsky
University of Calgary

References found in this work

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach.Karl Raimund Popper - 1972 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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