Books  General Natural History  History of Science 

The Philosophy of Biology: An Episodic History

By: Marjorie Grene and David Depew

438 pages, 2 line diagrams

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Oct 2004 | #171185 | ISBN: 0521643716
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £67.99 $83/€76 approx

About this book

Is life different from the non-living? If so, how? And how, in that case, does biology as the study of living things differ from other sciences? These questions are traced through an exploration of episodes in the history of biology and philosophy. The book begins with Aristotle, then moves on to Descartes, comparing his position with that of Harvey. In the eighteenth century the authors consider Buffon and Kant. In the nineteenth century the authors examine the Cuvier-Geoffroy debate, pre-Darwinian geology and natural theology, Darwin and the transition from Darwin to the revival of Mendelism. Two chapters deal with the evolutionary synthesis and such questions as the species problem, the reducibility or otherwise of biology to physics and chemistry, and the problem of biological explanation in terms of function and teleology. The final chapters reflect on the implications of the philosophy of biology for philosophy of science in general.

'... this is a book we all need and for which we should all be grateful ... this is an important book and, even if you only dip into it here and there, it is a work that should be on the shelf of every philosopher of biology ... Marjorie Grene and David Depew have written a really good book - too good just to praise. Let the arguments begin!' Biology and Philosophy


1. Aristotle and after; 2. Descartes, Harvey and the emergence of modern mechanism; 3. The eighteenth century: Buffon; 4. The eighteenth century II: Kant the development of German biology; 5. Before Darwin I: A continental controversy; 6. Before Darwin II: British controversies about geology and natural theology; 7. Darwin; 8. Evolution and heredity from Darwin to the rise of genetics; 9. The modern evolutionary synthesis and its discontents; 10. Some themes in recent philosophy of biology: The species problem, reducibility, function and teleology; 11. Biology and human nature; 12. The philosophy of biology and the philosophy of science.

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