Biological being : philosophical issues in scientific realism, experiments and (dis)unity
The biological sciences are changing the ways in which we understand ourselves Biological Being is a philosophical exploration of biology, mapping some of the features of the field that make it so important in generating these changes Two central themes are at the heart of this exploration: biology is a science that should be grasped from a realist position, and it is a science that reveals a disunified, pluralistic world of kinds of things. After an introduction of some the issues involved, in three substantial chapters these themes are unpacked and analysed. The first major chapter is about experimentation and biology. In it the experimental realism of Hacking is rejected, whilst the core notion of intervention and manipulation of the world as a vital epistemic tool is retained. Similarities and differences between experiments in the physical and biological science are investigated. This comparison is continued in the second major chapter, which is about natural kinds and biology’s relationship to the physical sciences. Reductionism. even in its weaker forms, is rejected along with the notion of scientific unity Recent attempts by Rosenberg to understand biology as an instrumental science are contrasted with Dupré's realism, and a system of type-hierarchies that could support realism for biology described. The third major chapter then looks at biology and the construction of human kinds by the social sciences. A reading of Foucault is given that attacks the idea that there can be a simple distinction drawn between those sciences that discover and those which construct kinds. Biology's role in the social sciences is explored. A final chapter draws the components of the thesis together and seeks a general understanding of rationality underpinning the whole discussion in recent work by Putnam.