All Shops

Go to British Wildlife

6 issues per year 84 pages per issue Subscription only

British Wildlife is the leading natural history magazine in the UK, providing essential reading for both enthusiast and professional naturalists and wildlife conservationists. Published six times a year, British Wildlife bridges the gap between popular writing and scientific literature through a combination of long-form articles, regular columns and reports, book reviews and letters.

Subscriptions from £25 per year

Conservation Land Management

4 issues per year 44 pages per issue Subscription only

Conservation Land Management (CLM) is a quarterly magazine that is widely regarded as essential reading for all who are involved in land management for nature conservation, across the British Isles. CLM includes long-form articles, events listings, publication reviews, new product information and updates, reports of conferences and letters.

Subscriptions from £18 per year
Academic & Professional Books  Organismal to Molecular Biology  General Biology

Lessons from the Living Cell The Limits of Reductionism

Out of Print
By: Stephen Rothman
300 pages, no illustrations
Publisher: McGraw Hill
Lessons from the Living Cell
Click to have a closer look
Select version
  • Lessons from the Living Cell ISBN: 9780071378208 Hardback Dec 2001 Out of Print #126365
About this book Related titles

About this book

As we enter the Genomic Age, the practice of molecular biology will take on increasing importance. Much is at stake, from the discovery of new drugs and treatments, to the development of new agricultural products, to a greater understanding of all natural systems, even a new conception of ourselves. Like most of modern science, molecular biology is based on a method called reductionism, whereby a system is broken down into its constituent parts to be studied at the most fundamental level possible. Reductionism is an extraordinarily powerful tool that has been incredibly productive; but, some would argue, it has its dangers.

In Lessons from the Living Cell, veteran experimental biologist Stephen Rothman argues that reductionism is a philosophical spectrum that tends to lead its practioners along a logical path to its extreme conclusion, what he calls strong microreductionism. In other words, biologists who enter the lab to take a reductionist approach to a problem are participating in a scientific culture that in its methods and assumptions reinforces the view that biological processes can be fully understood from the description of their fundamental elements – that ultimately a complete understanding of a biological system, or even an organism, can be built from the bottom up. Common sense would dictate that this is not so, that even though the study of molecular entities yields extremely useful data, its final interpretation requires a reference to the whole. And most biologists would acknowledge this as self-evident, but their day-to-day practice belies a different philosophy. This is not an idle philosophical conundrum: Rothman argues that the collective, unwitting practice of strong microreductionism can lead to misinterpretations of scientific results and the persistence of faulty paradigms.

Lessons from the Living Cell is an extended meditation on what makes a system living and how our methods of approaching this question determine our results. It is a clear-eyed look at the social climate in which science is practiced and the collective psychology that Rothman fears is leading scientists astray. It is an elegant argument that draws upon the author's personal experience to reveal how the passive acceptance of strong microreductionism can make it difficult for new scientific ideas to be accepted. Ultimately it is a passionate plea for the adoption of a new kind of science, one that goes beyond reductionism to embrace the full complexity of living systems.

Customer Reviews

Out of Print
By: Stephen Rothman
300 pages, no illustrations
Publisher: McGraw Hill
Current promotions
Backlist BargainsThe Mammal SocietyOrder your free copy of our 2018 equipment catalogueBritish Wildlife