Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 381–400 | Cite as

Homology thinking

  • Marc EreshefskyEmail author


This paper explores an important type of biological explanation called ‘homology thinking.’ Homology thinking explains the properties of a homologue by citing the history of a homologue. Homology thinking is significant in several ways. First, it offers more detailed explanations of biological phenomena than corresponding analogy explanations. Second, it provides an important explanation of character similarity and difference. Third, homology thinking offers a promising account of multiple realizability in biology.


Historical explanation Historicity Homology Homology thinking Multiple realizability Reductionism 



I thank the referee for this journal as well as Eric Desjardins, Alan Love, Mohan Matthen, Olivier Rieppel, Alex Rosenberg, Elliott Sober, Rasmus Winther, and Gunter Wagner for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. Financial support was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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