Reduction and instrumentalism in genetics

Philosophy of Science 59 (4):655-670 (1992)
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In his important paper "1953 and All That: A Tale of Two Sciences" (1984), Philip Kitcher defends biological antireductionism, arguing that the division of biology into subfields such as classical and molecular genetics is "not simply... a temporary feature of our science stemming from our cognitive imperfections but [is] the reflection of levels of organization in nature" (p. 371). In a recent discussion of Kitcher's views, Alexander Rosenberg has argued, first, that Kitcher has shown that the reduction of classical to molecular genetics is impossible only because of our intellectual limitations and, second, that this kind of antireductionism supports an instrumentalist approach to biological theory. I argue that both of Rosenberg's claims should be rejected despite the fact that Kitcher misdiagnoses the central reason for the failure of reduction



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References found in this work

Explanatory unification.Philip Kitcher - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.
1953 and all that. A tale of two sciences.Philip Kitcher - 1984 - Philosophical Review 93 (3):335-373.
Supervenience as a philosophical concept.Jaegwon Kim - 1990 - Metaphilosophy 21 (1-2):1-27.
The Nature of Selection: Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus.Elliott Sober - 1987 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (3):397-399.
The supervenience of biological concepts.Alexander Rosenberg - 1978 - Philosophy of Science 45 (3):368-386.

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