Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 305–313

Review of Sandra D. Mitchell: Unsimple truths: science, complexity, and policy

The University of Chicago Press, 2009
Review Essay

DOI: 10.1007/s10539-010-9245-z

Cite this article as:
Crawford, D.R. Biol Philos (2011) 26: 305. doi:10.1007/s10539-010-9245-z


In Unsimple truths, Sandra D. Mitchell examines the historical context of current scientific practices and elaborates the challenges complexity has since posed to status quo science and policymaking. Mitchell criticizes models of science inspired by Newtonian physics and argues for a pragmatistic, anti-universalist approach to science. In this review, I focus on what I find to be the most important point of the book, Mitchell’s argument for the conceptual independence of compositional materialism and descriptive fundamentalism. Along the way, I provide a description of Mitchell’s overall project and a road map of the book.


ComplexityCompositional materialismContingencyDescriptive fundamentalismEmergentismReductionismScientific lawsScientific method

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Philosophy and BiologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA