Biology and Physics: Reflections on Reductionism
The relationships between biology and the physicochemical sciences, and between organisms and inorganic matter, are of considerable interest to the philosophy of science. Many papers, books, and symposia have been dedicated to these relationships in recent years (e.g., Refs. 1 and 2). The issues at stake are sometimes called “the problem of reductionism” or “the question of reduction.” Few philosophical issues have been more actively debated in recent years, particularly among scientists, than the question of reduction. These debates, however, often involve several different issues, not always properly distinguished. Issues about the relationship between biology and the physical sciences, or between organisms and their physical components, arise in at least three domains, which may be called “ontological,” “methodological,” and “epistemological.” I shall identify the issues raised in each domain, and then consider each domain in turn.
KeywordsPhysical Science Component Part Biological Phenomenon Emergent Property Secondary Science
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References and Notes
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