• Biology and A Priori Laws
    Mehmet Elgin
    Philosophy of Science 70 (5): 1380-1389. 2003.
    Abstract: In this paper, my main objective is to investigate the nature of a priori biological laws in connection with the idea that laws must be empirical. I argue that functions of so-called a priori biological laws in biological sciences are the same as those of empirical physical laws. Thus, the requirement of being empirical makes no difference how laws operate in sciences. This result presents us a choice between sticking with a philosophical requirement of laws being empirical or taking f…Read more
  • There may be strict empirical laws in biology, after all
    Mehmet Elgin
    Biology and Philosophy 21 (1): 119-134. 2006.
    This paper consists of four parts. Part 1 is an introduction. Part 2 evaluates arguments for the claim that there are no strict empirical laws in biology. I argue that there are two types of arguments for this claim and they are as follows: (1) Biological properties are multiply realized and they require complex processes. For this reason, it is almost impossible to formulate strict empirical laws in biology. (2) Generalizations in biology hold contingently but laws go beyond describing continge…Read more
  • I analyze here biological regression equations known in the literature as allometries and scaling laws. My focus is on the alleged lawlike status of these equations. In particular I argue against recent views that regard allometries and scaling laws as representing universal, non-continent, and/or strict biological laws. Although allometries and scaling laws appear to be generalizations applying to many taxa, they are neither universal nor exceptionless. In fact there appear to be exceptions to …Read more
  • This article serves as an introduction to the laws-of-biology debate. After introducing the main issues in an introductory section, arguments for and against laws of biology are canvassed in Section 2. In Section 3, the debate is placed in wider epistemological context by engaging a group of scholars who have shifted the focus away from the question of whether there are laws of biology and toward offering good accounts of explanation(s) in the biological sciences. Section 4 introduces two relati…Read more
  • Physical explanations and biological explanations, empirical laws and a priori laws
    Joel Press
    Biology and Philosophy 24 (3): 359-374. 2009.
    Philosophers intent upon characterizing the difference between physics and biology often seize upon the purported fact that physical explanations conform more closely to the covering law model than biological explanations. Central to this purported difference is the role of laws of nature in the explanations of these two sciences. However, I argue that, although certain important differences between physics and biology can be highlighted by differences between physical and biological explanation…Read more
  • Gould on laws in biological science
    Lee Mcintyre
    Biology and Philosophy 12 (3): 357-367. 1997.
    Are there laws in evolutionary biology? Stephen J. Gould has argued that there are factors unique to biological theorizing which prevent the formulation of laws in biology, in contradistinction to the case in physics and chemistry. Gould offers the problem of complexity as just such a fundamental barrier to biological laws in general, and to Dollos Law in particular. But I argue that Gould fails to demonstrate: (1) that Dollos Law is not law-like, (2) that the alleged failure of Dollos Law demon…Read more
  • Former discussions of biological generalizations have focused on the question of whether there are universal laws of biology. These discussions typically analyzed generalizations out of their investigative and explanatory contexts and concluded that whatever biological generalizations are, they are not universal laws. The aim of this paper is to explain what biological generalizations are by shifting attention towards the contexts in which they are drawn. I argue that within the context of any p…Read more
  • Biology and a priori laws
    Mehmet Elgin
    Philosophy of Science 70 (5): 1380--1389. 2002.
    In this paper, I investigate the nature of a priori biological laws in connection with the idea that laws must be empirical. I argue that the epistemic functions of a priori biological laws in biology are the same as those of empirical laws in physics. Thus, the requirement that laws be empirical is idle in connection with how laws operate in science. This result presents a choice between sticking with an unmotivated philosophical requirement and taking the functional equivalence of laws serious…Read more
  • Sober and Elgin on laws of biology: A critique (review)
    Biology and Philosophy 25 (2): 249-256. 2010.
    In this short discussion note, I discuss whether any of the generalizations made in biology should be construed as laws. Specifically, I examine a strategy offered by Elliot Sober ( 1997 ) and supported by Mehmet Elgin ( 2006 ) to reformulate certain biological generalizations so as to eliminate their contingency, thereby allowing them to count as laws. I argue that this strategy entails a conception of laws that is unacceptable on two counts: (1) Sober and Elgin’s approach allows the possibilit…Read more