Thinking about Life: The history and philosophy of biology and other sciences

Front Cover
Springer Science & Business Media, Nov 5, 2008 - Science - 267 pages
0 Reviews
Our previous book, About Life, concerned modern biology. We used our present-day understanding of cells to ‘define’ the living state, providing a basis for exploring several general-interest topics: the origin of life, extraterrestrial life, intelligence, and the possibility that humans are unique. The ideas we proposed in About Life were intended as starting-points for debate – we did not claim them as ‘truth’ – but the information on which they were based is currently accepted as ‘scientific fact’. What does that mean? What is ‘scientific fact’ and why is it accepted? What is science – and is biology like other sciences such as physics (except in subject m- ter)? The book you are now reading investigates these questions – and some related ones. Like About Life, it may particularly interest a reader who wishes to change career to biology and its related subdisciplines. In line with a recommendation by the British Association for the Advancement of Science – that the public should be given fuller information about the nature of science – we present the concepts underpinning biology and a survey of its historical and philosophical basis.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

What is Science?
1
Scientific Knowledge
2
The Need to Understand Cause and Effect is Uniquely and Characteristically Human
3
What is Distinctive About Science?
5
Scientific Ideas Are Expressed in ValueNeutral Terms
6
Scientific Explanations Tend towards Reductionism
7
Scientific Theories Must Be Logically Consistent
8
Scientific Knowledge Is Inherently Progressive
9
Geoffroy versus Cuvier
120
The Birth of Cell Biology
121
Mechanistic Materialism
123
An Alternative Tradition of Physiology
125
Implications for the Development of Biology
127
Embryos and Entelechy
129
Preformationism
130
Problems with Preformationism
131

Culture Technology and Knowledge
13
A Hypothetical Scenario
14
Modern Science and Technology
17
The BoultonWatt Steam Engine and the Discovery of Latent Heat
18
Electrical Power and the Second Industrial Revolution
19
The ScienceBegetsTechnology Myth
20
Greek Naturalistic Thought Was Not Science
22
Classical Roots
24
Aristotle 384322 BC
26
Aristotles Physics
28
Athens after Plato and Aristotle
30
Mystical and Religious Thought in Alexandria
32
The Dispersal and Reunion of Classical Learning
33
Mediaeval Views of the World
37
Advances in Knowledge during the Islamic Golden Age
38
AverroŽs and Algazel
43
Contemporaneous Changes in Europe
45
The Power of the Church
46
The Universities and Scholasticism
47
Pro and Contra Aristotle
48
Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas
49
Aristotelianism
52
Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon
53
William of Ockham c1282c1348
54
The Decline of Islamic PreEminence
55
The Scientific Revolution
57
Oresme
58
Nicholas of Cusa
59
The Mertonian Calculators
60
Secularisation
61
The Renaissance
62
Changing Styles of Thought
63
The Demise of Aristotelianism
64
Johannes Kepler 15711630
65
Giordano Bruno 15481600 and Galileo Galilei 15641642
66
Pierre Gassendi 15921655
67
The Distinctiveness of Natural Philosophy
68
Invoking or Not Invoking God
70
Mathematical Reasoning
71
Science and Cultural Relativism
72
The Scientific Revolution in Biology
75
Anomalies in Galenism
76
The Discovery of Venous Valves
78
Is There a General Process of TheoryChange in Science?
79
Harveys Theory of the Circulation
80
Conceptions of Natural Philosophy
82
Harvey and Descartes
84
Testing the Predictions
85
The Early Microscopists
86
The Historical and Philosophical Context of the Early Microscopists
88
Aristotles Biology
89
Historia Animalium
90
De Partibus Animalium
91
De Motu Animalium and De Incessu Animalium
92
De Generatione Animalium
93
De Anima
95
Aristotle Harvey and Descartes
96
Aristotles Legacy
98
How Different Are Organisms from Inanimate Objects?
99
Classical Empiricism
101
The Enlightenment
102
Against Mechanism
103
Living and NonLiving Matter Vital Force
104
Helmont
105
Stahl
106
Buffon
107
Dalton and Berzelius
108
Pasteur
109
The Third AntiMaterialist Stance
110
Overview
111
Cell Theory and Experimental Physiology New Ideas in a Changing Society
114
Kant
116
The Romantic Reaction
118
Goethe
119
Taxonomy and the Critique of Preformationism
132
Epigenesis Reborn
133
The Mammalian Ovum and the Growth of Descriptive Embryology
134
Haeckel and the Recapitulation Hypothesis
137
Cell Division and the Beginnings of Experimental Embryology
138
Roux and Driesch
139
Fate and Competence
144
Spontaneous Generation
146
Insects Are Not Spontaneously Generated
148
Intestinal Parasites
150
Spallanzani Versus Needham
152
Changing Fashions
154
Pasteur Versus Pouchet
155
The Origin of Life
158
The Evolution of Darwinism
161
The Influence of Geology
162
Lamarcks Concept of Transformation
163
Influence of Lamarck
164
Charles Darwin 18091882 and the Natural Selection Model
167
Formative Influences
169
The Argument of the Origin of Species
170
Application of the Natural Selection Model to Human Evolution
171
The Philosophical Context
172
The Fate of Positivism
173
Acceptance of Evolutionary Theory and Natural Selection
174
The Age of the Earth
175
The Nature of Heredity
176
The Great Heredity Debate
177
The Biometric School
178
The Weismann Barrier
179
Mendel
180
The Mutationist Saltationist School
183
The Great Heredity Debate
184
Chromosomes and Heredity
185
Suttons Errors
187
Morgan and the Chromosomal Theory of Inheritance
188
Philosophical Problems and an Alternative Viewpoint
190
Evolutionary Theory Attains Maturity
193
Fishers Errors
195
J B S Haldane 18921964
196
Julian Huxley 18871975
197
Synthetic Theory Reconciled with Palaeontology and Embryology
198
The Main Principles of the Synthetic Theory
199
Bacterial Genetics
202
The Molecular Basis of Heredity and Evolution
203
The Modern Theory of Evolution
205
The Problem of Purpose1
206
Another View of the Living State
208
The Ambiguity of Purpose
209
Further Analysis of FunctionStatements
211
GoalSeeking Behaviour
212
The Limits of Meaningful Teleology?
213
The Scientific Status of Biology
215
Matter Energy Information and Organisation
217
Information
218
Organisation
219
Theories in Physics and Biology
220
Cell Theory
221
The Historical Character of Evolutionary Theory
222
The Incompleteness of Biology
223
Biological Nature and Human Culture
224
Living with Uncertainty
226
Human Beings as Moral Agents
227
Biology Humanity and World Problems
228
Science and Philosophy Philosophies of Science and Scientific Practice
229
The Nature of Scientific Theories
230
Theory Structure and Theory Change5
232
Experiments
233
Models
234
Bibliography
235
Name Index
245
Subject Index
251
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information