Law and explanation in biology: Invariance is the kind of stability that matters

Philosophy of Science 68 (1):1-20 (2001)

Abstract

This paper develops an account of explanation in biology which does not involve appeal to laws of nature, at least as traditionally conceived. Explanatory generalizations in biology must satisfy a requirement that I call invariance, but need not satisfy most of the other standard criteria for lawfulness. Once this point is recognized, there is little motivation for regarding such generalizations as laws of nature. Some of the differences between invariance and the related notions of stability and resiliency, due respectively to Sandra Mitchell and Brian Skyrms, are explored.

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References found in this work

Four Decades of Scientific Explanation.Wesley C. Salmon & Anne Fagot-Largeault - 1989 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 16 (2):355.
Explanation and Invariance in the Special Sciences.James Woodward - 2000 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (2):197-254.
Dimensions of Scientific Law.Sandra D. Mitchell - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (2):242-265.
Pragmatic Laws.Sandra D. Mitchell - 1997 - Philosophy of Science 64 (4):479.

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Citations of this work

Natural Kindness.Matthew H. Slater - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):375-411.
The Ontic Account of Scientific Explanation.Carl F. Craver - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver R. Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the Special Sciences: The Case of Biology and History. Springer Verlag. pp. 27-52.
The Hard Problem Of Content: Solved (Long Ago).Marcin Miłkowski - 2015 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 41 (1):73-88.

View all 47 citations / Add more citations

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