Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 39–58

Levels of organization: a deflationary account


DOI: 10.1007/s10539-014-9461-z

Cite this article as:
Eronen, M.I. Biol Philos (2015) 30: 39. doi:10.1007/s10539-014-9461-z


The idea of levels of organization plays a central role in the philosophy of the life sciences. In this article, I first examine the explanatory goals that have motivated accounts of levels of organization. I then show that the most state-of-the-art and scientifically plausible account of levels of organization, the account of levels of mechanism proposed by Bechtel and Craver, is fundamentally problematic. Finally, I argue that the explanatory goals can be reached by adopting a deflationary approach, where levels of organization give way to more well-defined and fundamental notions, such as scale and composition.


Levels Levels of organization Mechanistic explanation Scale Composition Bechtel Craver 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Logic and Analytical Philosophy, Institute of PhilosophyKU LeuvenLouvainBelgium

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