Journal of the History of Biology 47 (2):243-292 (2014)
AbstractThe writings of Joseph Henry Woodger (1894–1981) are often taken to exemplify everything that was wrongheaded, misguided, and just plain wrong with early twentieth-century philosophy of biology. Over the years, commentators have said of Woodger: (a) that he was a fervent logical empiricist who tried to impose the explanatory gold standards of physics onto biology, (b) that his philosophical work was completely disconnected from biological science, (c) that he possessed no scientific or philosophical credentials, and (d) that his work was disparaged – if not altogether ignored – by the biologists and philosophers of his era. In this paper, we provide the first systematic examination of Woodger’s oeuvre, and use it to demonstrate that the four preceding claims are false. We argue that Woodger’s ideas have exerted an important influence on biology and philosophy, and submit that the current consensus on his legacy stems from a highly selective reading of his works. By rehabilitating Woodger, we hope to show that there is no good reason to continue to disregard the numerous contributions to the philosophy of biology produced in the decades prior to the professionalization of the discipline
Added to PP
Historical graph of downloads
References found in this work
Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind.Evan Thompson - 2007 - Harvard University Press.
The Nature of Selection: Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus.Elliott Sober - 1984 - University of Chicago Press.
The Disorder of Things: Metaphysical Foundations of the Disunity of Science.John Dupré - 1993 - Harvard University Press.
The Structure of Science: Problems in the Logic of Scientific Explanation.Ernest Nagel - 1961 - New York, NY, USA: Harcourt, Brace & World.
Citations of this work
A Manifesto for a Processual Philosophy of Biology.John A. Dupre & Daniel J. Nicholson - 2018 - In Daniel J. Nicholson & John A. Dupre (eds.), Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology.
Neither Logical Empiricism nor Vitalism, but Organicism: What the Philosophy of Biology Was.Daniel J. Nicholson & Richard Gawne - 2015 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 37 (4):345-381.
O Organism, Where Art Thou? Old and New Challenges for Organism-Centered Biology.Jan Baedke - 2018 - Journal of the History of Biology 52 (2):293-324.
Genidentity and Biological Processes.Thomas Pradeu - 2018 - In Daniel J. Nicholson & John Dupre (eds.), Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology. Oxford University Press.
Moving Past the Systematics Wars.Beckett Sterner & Scott Lidgard - 2018 - Journal of the History of Biology 51 (1):31-67.