Richard Levins’ Philosophy of Science
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Mid-century philosophy of science was largely concerned with the analysis of explanation, confirmation, and physical theories. Against this backdrop of logic and physics-driven philosophy of science, Richard Levins’ early contributions to philosophy of biology are notable for their attention to the complex issues facing practicing theoreticians. In a series of articles and book chapters, Levins, a population biologist, wrote some of the most important articles analyzing biological complexity and the theoretical strategies necessary to deal with it.
Levins’ work from this period investigated a number of questions that are central to the research of contemporary philosophers: What is the nature of complexity? How should we approach the need for idealization? What are scientific models and how do they differ from set-theoretic models? How do non-additive fitness structures affect our evolutionary explanations? Is precision intrinsicaly valuable, or should theorists be content with...
KeywordsModel Building Natural Kind Contemporary Problem Population Biology Scientific Model
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- Levins R (1968) Evolution in changing environments. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
- Levins R (1970) Complex systems. In: Waddington CH (ed) Towards a theoretical biology vol 3. Chicago, Aldine Publishing, pp 73–88Google Scholar
- Levins R (1975) Problems of signed digraphs in ecological theory. In: Levin SA (eds) Ecosystem analysis and prediction. Philadelphia, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, pp 264–277Google Scholar
- Orzack SH (2005) ‘What, if anything, is “The strategy of model building in population biology”?: a comment on Levins’ (1966) and Odenbaugh (2003). Phil Sci, pp 479–485Google Scholar
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