The Structure of Biological Theories

The Structure of Biological Theories

by Paul Thompson
     
 

ISBN-10: 0887069339

ISBN-13: 9780887069338

Pub. Date: 04/01/1989

Publisher: State University of New York Press

The central thesis of this book is that the semantic conception is a logical methodologically and heuristically richer and more accurate account of scientific theorizing, and in particular of theorizing in evolutionary biology, than the more widely adhered to syntactic conception. In this book, the author outlines both the conceptions indicating the significant

Overview

The central thesis of this book is that the semantic conception is a logical methodologically and heuristically richer and more accurate account of scientific theorizing, and in particular of theorizing in evolutionary biology, than the more widely adhered to syntactic conception. In this book, the author outlines both the conceptions indicating the significant problems with the syntactic conception; explains and criticizes two influential syntactic-conception accounts of the structure of evolutionary theorizing. Thompson also argues that the semantic conception provides a richer and more accurate understanding than the syntactic conception of sociobiological explanation, of the testability of sociobiology, and of the role of culture and cognition in evolutionary explanations of human behavior.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780887069338
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
04/01/1989
Series:
SUNY series in Philosophy and Biology Series
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

1. Theory Structure and Foundational Issues in Evolutionary Biology

1.1 The Theory of Evolution as a Family of Interacting Models
1.2 Sociobiology and Testability
1.3 Culture and the Evolutionary Process

2. The Syntactic Conception of Theory Structure

2.1 Formal Languages and Formal Systems
2.2 Euclidean Geometry as a Formal System
2.3 Mathematical Logic and the Formal Structure of Scientific Theories
2.4 Empirical Interpretation of a Formal System
2.5 Laws, Explanation, Prediction, and Testing
2.6 Criticisms of This Conception
2.7 Summary

3. Syntactic Conceptions of Evolutionary Theory

3.1 The Population-Genetical Account of Michael Ruse
3.2 The Selection Theory Accounts of Mary Willams and Alexander Rosenberg
3.3 The Insights and Inadequacies of These Accounts

4. The Semantic Concpetion of Theory Structure

4.1 Models of Formal Systems
4.2 Theories as Specifications of a Class of Models
4.3 The Set-Theoretical Approach
4.4 The State Space Approach
4.5 Summary

5. A Semantic Conception of the Structure of Evolutionary Theory

5.1 A Semantic Conception of Population Genetics
5.2 Faithfulness to Foundational Work in Genetics
5.3 A Semantic Conception of Evolutionary Theory as a Family of Interacting Models

6. Sociobiology

6.1 Explanation and Testability
6.2 Intelligence-based Behavior

7. Culture and the Evolutionary Process: Multitheoretic and Multilevel Explanatory Causal Chains

7.1 Evolutionary Epistemology
7.2 Evolutionary Ethics

Conclusion

Bibliography

Index

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