Explanation in Biology

An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences

  • Pierre-Alain Braillard
  • Christophe Malaterre

Part of the History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences book series (HPTL, volume 11)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vi
  2. Pierre-Alain Braillard, Christophe Malaterre
    Pages 1-28
  3. Exploring Explanatory Pluralism in Biology

  4. Mechanistic Explanation: Applications and Emendations

  5. The Role of Mathematics in Biological Explanations

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 227-227
    2. Alan Baker
      Pages 229-247
    3. Tobias Breidenmoser, Olaf Wolkenhauer
      Pages 249-264
    4. Tarik Issad, Christophe Malaterre
      Pages 265-292
  6. The Role of Heuristics in Biological Explanations

  7. New Theories of Explanation in Biology and Elsewhere

About this book


Patterns of explanation in biology have long been recognized as different from those deployed in other scientific disciplines, especially physics. Celebrating the diversity of explanatory models found in biology, this volume details their varying types as well as their relationships to one another. It covers the key current debates in the philosophy of biology over the nature of explanation, and its apparent diversity that stems from a variety of historical, causal, mechanistic, or mathmatical explanatory practices.

Offering a wealth of fresh analyses on the nature of explanation in contemporary biology chapters examine aspects ranging from the role of mathematics in explaining cell development to the complexities thrown up by evolutionary-developmental biology, where explanation is altered by multidisciplinarity itself. They cover major domains such as ecology and systems biology, as well as contemporary trends, such as the mechanistic explanations spawned by progress in molecular biology. With contributions from researchers of many different nationalities, the book provides a many-angled perspective on a revealing feature of the discipline of biology.​


Biological systems engineering Complex biological mechanisms Dynamical explanation biology Functional explanations Mathematical modeling in molecular biology Mechanistic explanations

Authors and affiliations

  • Pierre-Alain Braillard
    • 1
  • Christophe Malaterre
    • 2
  1. 1.Independant ScholarPeyregrand, DrulheFrance
  2. 2.Département de philosophie & CIRST, Chaire de recherche UQAM en Philosophie des sciencesUniversité du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)MontréalCanada

Bibliographic information