Acta Biotheoretica

, Volume 21, Issue 3–4, pp 274–301 | Cite as

The relation between philosophy of science and biology exemplified by the problem of explanation

  • W. Van Laar
  • H. Verhoog


This paper contains some considerations on the relation between philosophy of science and science, in particular biology. There is a contrast between formalistic and pragmatic approaches to the structure of scientific thought, which is illustrated by the different viewpoints on the nature of explanation. In an appendix some aspects of the logical structure of teleological explanation are discussed.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ackoff, R. L. (1961). General systems theory and systems research, contrasting conceptions of systems science.-In:M. D. Mesarovic (1964) (Ed.), Views on general systems theory.-New York, John Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. Apostel, L. (1963). Can metaphysics be a science ?-Studia Philosophia Gandensia1, p. 7–95.Google Scholar
  3. Bertalanffy, L. von (1968). General systems theory.-New York, Braziller, xv + 289 p.Google Scholar
  4. Brodbeck, M. (1953). The nature and function of the philosophy of science.-In:H. Feigl &M. Brodbeck, eds., 1953, Readings in the philosophy of science.-New York, Appleton Century Crofts.Google Scholar
  5. Collins, A. W. (1966). Explanation and causality.-Mind75, p. 482–500.Google Scholar
  6. Dullemeyer, P. (1972). Explanation in morphology.-Acta Biotheor., Leiden,21, p. 260–273.Google Scholar
  7. Groot, A. D. de (1970). Methodology. Foundations of inference and research in the behavioural sciences.-The Hague & Paris, Mouton & Co.Google Scholar
  8. Hempel, C. G. (1965). Aspects of scientific explanation, and other essays in the philosophy of science.-New York, Macmillan, ix + 505 p.Google Scholar
  9. Hempel, C. G. (1970). Fundamentals of concept formation in empirical science.-In:O. Neurath, R. Carnap &C. Morris, eds., Foundations of the unity of science, vol. II, nos. 1–9,-Chicago & London, Univ. of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  10. Hull, D. L. &D. P. Snyder (1969). Contemporary logic and evolutionary taxonomy: a reply to Gregg.-System. Zool.18, p. 347–357.Google Scholar
  11. Jeuken, M. (1967). Ruimte en begrenzing in de biologie.-Geloof en Wetenschap,65 p. 109–118.Google Scholar
  12. Jeuken, M. (1968). A note on models and explanation in biology.-Acta Biotheor., Leiden,18, p. 284–290.Google Scholar
  13. Kaplan, A. (1964). The conduct of inquiry.-San Francisco, Chandler, xix + 428 p.Google Scholar
  14. Klaauw, C. J. van der (1958). Biology and philosophy.-In:R. Klibanski, ed., Philosophy in the mid-century-p. 315–328, Firenza, La nuova Italia Editrice.Google Scholar
  15. Kraft, V. (1960). Erkenntnislehre.-Wien, Springer, viii + 379 p.Google Scholar
  16. Lagerspetz, K. (1959). Teleological explanations and terms in biology.-Ann. Zool. Soc. ‘Vanamo’,19(6), ii + 73 p. (Diss.).Google Scholar
  17. Lagerspetz, K. Y. H. (1969). Individuality and creativity: is biology different.-Synthese20 (2), p. 254–260.Google Scholar
  18. Meyer-Abich, A. (1926). Logik der Morphologie, im Rahmen einer Logik der gesamten Biologie.-Berlin, Springer, vi + 290 p.Google Scholar
  19. O'Neil, W. M. (1969). Fact and theory.-Sydney University Press, xiv + 193 p.Google Scholar
  20. Nooney, G. C. (1965). Mathematical models, reality and results.-J. Theor. Biol.9, p. 239–252.Google Scholar
  21. Rapoport, A. (1965). Operational Philosophy.-New York, J. Wiley, xi + 258 p.Google Scholar
  22. Reichenbach, H. (1961). Experience and prediction.-University of Chicago Press, Phoenix Books, x + 408 p.Google Scholar
  23. Rosenblueth, A. (1970). Mind and brain: a philosophy of science.-MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, xii + 128 p.Google Scholar
  24. Scheffler, I. (1967). Science and subjectivity.-New York, Bobbs-Merrill Company, v + 132 p.Google Scholar
  25. Scriven, M. (1969). Explanation in the biological sciences.-J. Hist. Biol.2 (1), p. 187–198.Google Scholar
  26. Smart, J. J. C. (1968). Between science and philosophy.-New York, Random House, xiv + 363 p.Google Scholar
  27. Steen, W. J. v. d. &J. C. Jager (1971). Biology, causality and abstraction, with illustrations from a behavioural study of chemoreception.-J. Theor. Biol.33, p. 265–278.Google Scholar
  28. Stegmüller, W. (1969). Wissenschaftliche Erklärung und Begründung. Probleme und Resultate der Wissenschaftstheorie und analytische Philosophie, Bd. I.-Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, Springer, xiv + 812 p.Google Scholar
  29. Szarski, H. (1960). The explanation of facts in biological sciences.-Scientia (Bologna)45, p. 17–21.Google Scholar
  30. Woodger, J. H. (1967). Biological principles (First ed. 1929).-London, Routledge & Kegan Paul; New York, Humanities Press; xix + 496 p.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© E. J. Brill 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Van Laar
    • 1
  • H. Verhoog
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituut voor Theoretische Biologie der RijksuniversiteitLeiden

Personalised recommendations