Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Darwinian ReductionismOr, How to Stop Worrying and Love Molecular Biology$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Alexander Rosenberg

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226727295

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226727318.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

Dobzhansky's Dictum and the Nature of Biological Explanation

Dobzhansky's Dictum and the Nature of Biological Explanation

(p.134) 4 Dobzhansky's Dictum and the Nature of Biological Explanation
Darwinian Reductionism
University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that biology is history, but unlike human history, it is history for which the “iron laws” of historical change have been found, and codified in Darwin's theory of natural selection. And because everything else in biology is history—the description and explanation of local accidents—there are no laws in biology other than Darwin's. But owing to the literal truth of Dobzhansky's dictum, these are the only laws biology needs. This conclusion raises a challenge for antireductionism: to show that the principle of natural selection is in fact innocent of the charge of tautology owing to the biologist's definition of fitness. If the antireductionist declines this challenge, two other alternative challenges must be faced: either identify another law or laws that will carry biology's explanatory burden, or show how biology can explain without laws at all.

Keywords:   biology, reductionism, Darwin, natural selection, Dobzhansky, antireductionism, fitness

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.