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What Sort of Science Is Evolutionary Biology?*

  • Mohan Matthen (a1)

Paul Thompson's new book, The Structure of Biological Theories, is about the formalization of evolutionary biology. He is primarily concerned, he says, with the logical, epistemological, and methodological aspects of biological theorizing. The main theme of the book is the opposition between what Thompson calls the syntactic and the semantic conceptions of theories. He wishes to establish that the semantic account is superior to the syntactic in at least three areas: first, it offers a more faithful account of population biology; second, it facilitates a conception of evolutionary biology as a family of interacting theories; finally, it offers us a richer framework for the resolution of methodological problems that have plagued sociobiology and evolutionary epistemology.

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Wolfgang Stegmüller , The Structuralist View of Theories: A Possible Analogue of the Bourbaki Programme in Natural Science (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1979)

Patrick Suppes , “The Desirability of Formalization in Science,” Journal of Philosophy, 65 (1968): 651–54.

Elliott Sober , “Fact, Fiction, and Fitness: A Reply to Rosenberg,” Journal of Philosophy, 81 (1984): 372–84, see especially p. 379–80.

Paul Thompson , “Tempo and Mode in Evolution: Punctuated Equilibria and the Modern Synthetic Theory,” Philosophy of Science, 50 (1983): 432–52.

Benton M. Stidd , “Are Punctuationists Wrong About the Modern Synthesis?Philosophy of Science, 52 (1985): 98109; extract from p.105.

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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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