Law and explanation in biology: Invariance is the kind of stability that matters

Philosophy of Science 68 (1):1-20 (2001)

James Woodward
University of Pittsburgh
This paper develops an account of explanation in biology which does not involve appeal to laws of nature, at least as traditionally conceived. Explanatory generalizations in biology must satisfy a requirement that I call invariance, but need not satisfy most of the other standard criteria for lawfulness. Once this point is recognized, there is little motivation for regarding such generalizations as laws of nature. Some of the differences between invariance and the related notions of stability and resiliency, due respectively to Sandra Mitchell and Brian Skyrms, are explored.
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DOI 10.1086/392863
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