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Philosophy of Biology

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Philosophy of Biology

The growth of philosophical interest in biology over the past thirty years reflects the increasing prominence of the biological sciences in the same period. There is now an extensive literature on many different biological topics, and it would be impossible to summarise this body of work in this single entry. Instead, this entry sets out to explain what philosophy of biology is. Why does biology matter to philosophy and vice versa? A list of the entries in the encyclopedia which address specific topics in the philosophy of biology is provided at the end of the entry.

Three different kinds of philosophical enquiry fall under the general heading of philosophy of biology. First, general theses in the philosophy of science are addressed in the context of biology. Second, conceptual puzzles within biology itself are subjected to philosophical analysis. Third, appeals to biology are made in discussions of traditional philosophical questions. The first two kinds of philosophical work are typically conducted in the context of a detailed knowledge of actual biology, the third less so.

Philosophy of biology can also be subdivided by the particular areas of biological theory with which it is concerned. Biology is a diverse set of disciplines, ranging from historical sciences such as paleontology to engineering sciences such as biotechnology. Different philosophical issues occur in each field. The latter part of the entry discusses how philosophers have approached some of the main disciplines within biology.

  • 1. Pre-history of Philosophy of Biology
  • 2. Three Types of Philosophy of Biology
  • 3. Philosophy of Evolutionary Biology
  • 4. Philosophy of Systematic Biology
  • 5. Philosophy of Molecular Biology
  • 6. Philosophy of Developmental Biology
  • 7. Philosophy of Ecology and Conservation Biology
  • 8. Methodology in Philosophy of Biology
  • Bibliography
  • Academic Tools
  • Other Internet Resources
  • Related Entries

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 December 2018 10:11

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