Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 21–38

Heuristics and Biases in Evolutionary Biology

  • David Magnus

DOI: 10.1023/A:1017953510082

Cite this article as:
Magnus, D. Biology & Philosophy (1996) 12: 21. doi:10.1023/A:1017953510082


Approaching science by considering the epistemological virtues which scientists see as constitutive of good science, and the way these virtues trade-off against one another, makes it possible to capture action that may be lost by approaches which focus on either the theoretical or institutional level. Following Wimsatt (1984) I use the notion of heuristics and biases to help explore a case study from the history of biology. Early in the 20th century, mutation theorists and natural historians fought over the role that isolation plays in evolution. This debate was principally about whether replication was the central scientific virtue (and hence the ultimate goal of science to replace non-experimental evidence with experimental evidence) or whether consilience of inductions was the central virtue (and hence, as many kinds of evidence as possible should be pursued).

speciationisolationheuristicsbiasesreplicationconsilience of inductions

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Magnus
    • 1
  1. 1.Ethics and ScienceUniversity of Puget SoundTacomaU.S.A