Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 149–167 | Cite as

Thirty years of Biology & Philosophy: philosophy of which biology?

  • Thomas Pradeu


Which domains of biology do philosophers of biology primarily study? The fact that philosophy of biology has been dominated by an interest for evolutionary biology is widely admitted, but it has not been strictly demonstrated. Here I analyse the topics of all the papers published in Biology & Philosophy, just as the journal celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. I then compare the distribution of biological topics in Biology & Philosophy with that of the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA, focusing on the recent period 2003–2015. This comparison reveals a significant mismatch between the distributions of these topics. I examine plausible explanations for that mismatch. Finally, I argue that many biological topics underrepresented in philosophy of biology raise important philosophical issues and should therefore play a more central role in future philosophy of biology.


Biology & Philosophy Philosophy of biology History of philosophy of biology 



I would like to thank Jean Gayon for his inspiring work. In addition, I would like to thank Lynn Chiu, Jean Gayon, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Matt Haber, Philippe Huneman, Maureen O’Malley, Sahotra Sarkar, and two anonymous referees for their comments on previous drafts. Dick Burian and Jean Gayon also provided very useful information about the history of ISHPSSB. This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme—Grant agreement no 637647—IDEM.

Supplementary material

10539_2016_9558_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 1172 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ImmunoConceptCNRS and University of BordeauxBordeauxFrance
  2. 2.Institut d’histoire et de philosophie des Sciences et des TechniquesCNRS and Panthéon-Sorbonne UniversityParisFrance

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