Darwinian ReductionismOr, How to Stop Worrying and Love Molecular Biology

Darwinian ReductionismOr, How to Stop Worrying and Love Molecular Biology

Alexander Rosenberg

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226727295

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

After the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953, scientists working in molecular biology embraced reductionism—the theory that all complex systems can be understood in terms of their components. Reductionism, however, has been widely resisted by both nonmolecular biologists and scientists working outside the field of biology. Many of these antireductionists, nevertheless, embrace the notion of physicalism—the idea that all biological processes are physical in nature. How, the author of this book asks, can these self-proclaimed physicalists also be antireductionists? The book navigates this difficult and seemingly intractable dualism with analysis and evidence. In the spirit of the few distinguished biologists who accept reductionism—E. O. Wilson, Francis Crick, Jacques Monod, James Watson, and Richard Dawkins—the author provides a defense of reductionism and applies it to molecular developmental biology and the theory of natural selection, ultimately proving that the physicalist must also be a reductionist.