Evolutionary Worlds Without End
Diversity and complexity are the hallmarks of living forms. Yet science aims for general causal explanations of its observations. So how can these be reconciled within the non-physical sciences? Is it possible for a science of life to conform to the requirements of a general theory - the type of theory seen in a 'hard' science such as physics? These are the questions that are explored in this important new book.
In Evolutionary Worlds Without End, Henry Plotkin considers whether there is any general theory in biology, including the social sciences, that is in any way equivalent to the general theories of physics. It starts by examining Ernest Rutherford's famous dictum as to what science is. In the later chapters he considers the possibility, within an historical framework, of a general theory being based upon selection processes.
Throughout, the author constructs a compelling argument for the idea that there are within biology, and that includes the social sciences, something like the general theories that make physics such powerful science. The book will be valuable for all those in the biological and social sciences, in particular, biologists, psychologists, as well as philosophers of science.
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1 The Rutherford dictum and its meaning for biology
2 Plus ša change
3 The expansion of selection theory
4 Evolutionary epistemology
5 Selection and cultural change