Reductionism in biology


Book Section

Reductionism is a thesis about formal logical relations among theories that were undermined by the philosophers of science with the powers of mathematical logic to illuminate interesting and important methodological matters such as explanation and theory testing. A major problem of reductionism in both molecular biology, and in functional biology is the absence of laws, either at the level of the reducing theory or the reduced theory, or between them. The real dispute is not about the derivability or undesirability of laws in functional biology from laws in molecular biology, but since there is only one general theory in biology, Darwinism. Reductionism claims that the most complete, correct, and adequate explanations of historical facts uncovered in functional biology is by appealing to other historical facts uncovered in molecular biology, plus some laws that operate at the level of molecular biology. Reductionism in biology turns out to be the radical thesis that ultimate explanations must give way to proximate ones and that these latter will be molecular explanations. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rosenberg, A

Published Date

  • December 1, 2007

Book Title

  • Philosophy of Biology

Start / End Page

  • 349 - 368

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780444515438

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/B978-044451543-8/50018-6

Citation Source

  • Scopus