biology, philosophy of


biology, philosophy of

Philosophical investigation of the concepts, problems, and methods of the biological sciences. Many of the topics considered in contemporary philosophy of biology have arisen from reflection on aspects of the theory of evolution. They include the question of whether evolution is ultimately falsifiable, a conventional requirement of all scientific theories; whether the thesis of natural selection has empirical content or is merely a tautology; whether selection operates at the level of the individual, the species, or the gene; and whether selection is guided by certain constraints controlling development at the molecular level. Other more general issues concern the possible reduction of biological theories to theories of the physical sciences, the role of teleological language in biology (see teleology), and the nature of species as a biological category. See also creationism; sociobiology.

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