Philosophy of Science 57 (4):575-593 (1990)
Advances in molecular biology have generally been taken to support the claim that biology is reducible to chemistry. I argue against that claim by looking in detail at a number of central results from molecular biology and showing that none of them supports reduction because (1) their basic predicates have multiple realizations, (2) their chemical realization is context-sensitive and (3) their explanations often presuppose biological facts rather than eliminate them. I then consider the heuristic and confirmational implications of irreducibility and argue that purely biochemical approaches are likely to be unsound and to be unable to confirm an important range of statements. I conclude by sketching criteria for scientific unity that do not entail reducibility and yet leave an important place for identifying underlying mechanisms. Molecular biology, properly understood, provides an excellent paradigm of non-reductive unity between different explanatory levels
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
The Explanatory Virtue of Abstracting Away From Idiosyncratic and Messy Detail.Christopher Clarke - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (6):1429-1449.
From Molecules to Systems: The Importance of Looking Both Ways.Alexander Powell & John Dupré - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40 (1):54-64.
The Philosophy of Interdisciplinarity: Sustainability Science and Problem-Feeding.Henrik Thorén & Johannes Persson - 2013 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 44 (2):337-355.
Why Metaphysical Abstinence Should Prevail in the Debate on Reductionism.Stéphanie Ruphy - 2005 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (2):105 – 121.
From Molecules to Systems: The Importance of Looking Both Ways.Alexander Powell & John Dupré - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40 (1):54-64.
Similar books and articles
The Philosophy and History of Molecular Biology: New Perspectives.Sahotra Sarkar (ed.) - 1996 - Kluwer Academic.
Interactions Among Theory, Experiment, and Technology in Molecular Biology.Kenneth F. Schaffner - 1994 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:192 - 205.
How to Reconcile Physicalism and Antireductionism About Biology.Alex Rosenberg & David Michael Kaplan - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (1):43-68.
Is the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis Robust Enough to Withstand the Challenge of Recent Discoveries in Molecular Biology and Molecular Evolution?John R. Jungck - 1982 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:322 - 328.
Theory Structure and Theory Change in Contemporary Molecular Biology.Sylvia Culp & Philip Kitcher - 1989 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 40 (4):459-483.
Naturalists, Molecular Biologists, and the Challenges of Molecular Evolution.Joel B. Hagen - 1999 - Journal of the History of Biology 32 (2):321 - 341.
Aims and Achievements of the Reductionist Approach in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology/Cell Biology: A Response to Kincaid.Joseph D. Robinson - 1992 - Philosophy of Science 59 (3):465-470.
Ins and Outs of Systems Biology Vis-À-Vis Molecular Biology: Continuation or Clear Cut?Philippe De Backer, Danny De Waele & Linda Van Speybroeck - 2010 - Acta Biotheoretica 58 (1):15-49.
Mechanism Schemas and the Relationship Between Biological Theories.Tudor M. Baetu - 2011 - In Phyllis McKay Illari Federica Russo (ed.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads39 ( #131,679 of 2,164,542 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #84,035 of 2,164,542 )
How can I increase my downloads?