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biology, philosophy of


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


The branch of philosophy that is devoted to the study of biology. As a subset of P hilosophy of science , philosophy of biology restricts its focus mainly to biology, although other sciences such as physics and chemistry are also important. Essentially, biology is the study of life, and it is often to biology that we turn when we have questions not just about life in general, but about human nature. Although biology is mainly comprised of facts, “biology's exciting conclusions do not follow from the facts alone” ( Sterelny and Griffiths, 1999 , p. 5). Claims in biology often leave the realm of data analysis and enter the realm of self-reflection and speculation, and for this reason, one might argue, philosophy has a clear place in biology. For simplicity's sake, one might say there are three general types of questions in philosophy of biology. The first contains questions in philosophy of science that have been narrowed to the subject of biology. For example, general epistemological questions about explanation in science or the status of laws in science are narrowed to questions about explanation in biology and the status of laws in biology. The second type of question contains problems in biology that biology has been unable to answer. An example here would be any question in theoretical biology, such as whether organisms have become more complex over time. A third type of question ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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