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Creating a Physical BiologyThe Three-Man Paper and Early Molecular Biology$
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Phillip R. Sloan and Brandon Fogel

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226767826

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226762777.001.0001

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Was Delbrück a Reductionist?

Was Delbrück a Reductionist?

(p.179) Chapter Six Was Delbrück a Reductionist?
Creating a Physical Biology

Daniel J. McKaughan

University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that the key to understanding the larger issues raised by the Three-Man Paper (3MP) and Max Delbrück's lifelong project is to situate his biological speculations with respect to what the author refers to as the “teleomechanical” framework for relating physics and biology espoused by Niels Bohr, who, after all, had inspired Delbrück's transition from physics to biology. Contrary to the claim of some scholars that Delbrück was motivated by an in-principle reductionism, the author argues here that Bohr and Delbrück shared a core expectation that at least some aspects of life would turn out to be irreducible to physicochemical terms, but that there were also some important differences in the way they eventually came to think about biological complementarity.

Keywords:   biological speculations, teleomechanical framework, Niels Bohr, in-principle reductionism, physicochemical terms, biological complementarity, physics, biology

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