Theoretical modeling and biological laws

Philosophy of Science 63 (3):35 (1996)
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Abstract

Recent controversy over the existence of biological laws raises questions about the cognitive aims of theoretical modeling in that science. If there are no laws for successful theoretical models to approximate, then what is it that successful theories do? One response is to regard theoretical models as tools. But this instrumental reading cannot accommodate the explanatory role that theories are supposed to play. Yet accommodating the explanatory function, as articulated by Brandon and Sober for example, seems to involve us once again in a reliance on laws. The paper concludes that we must rethink both the nature of laws and theoretical explanation in biology

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Citations of this work

How could models possibly provide how-possibly explanations?Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 73:1-12.
The aim and structure of ecological theory.Marcel Weber - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (1):71-93.
Must there be a balance of nature?Gregory Cooper - 2001 - Biology and Philosophy 16 (4):481-506.

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References found in this work

Philosophy and Scientific Realism.J. J. C. Smart - 1965\ - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 15 (60):358-360.
Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement.Tim Maudlin & Nancy Cartwright - 1993 - Journal of Philosophy 90 (11):599.
Instrumental Biology or the Disunity of Science.Alexander Rosenberg - 1997 - Philosophical Quarterly 47 (186):120-122.
Equilibrium explanation.Elliott Sober - 1983 - Philosophical Studies 43 (2):201 - 210.

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