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Sometimes You Ride the Pegasus, Sometimes You Take the Road: Mitchell on Laws in Biology

Plutynski, Anya (2023) Sometimes You Ride the Pegasus, Sometimes You Take the Road: Mitchell on Laws in Biology. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Mitchell’s philosophical contributions are part of an ongoing conversation among philosophers and scientists about laws and unification in biology, going back at least to Darwin. This article situates Mitchell in this conversation, explains why and how she has correctly guided us away from false idols, and engages several difficult questions she leaves open. I argue that there are different epistemic roles laws (or models describing lawlike regularities) play in biological inquiry. First, they play the role of “how possibly” explanations, akin to Herschel’s characterization of Whewell’s “a priori Pegasus,” and second, they provide descriptions of empirical regularities, akin to the “plain matter of fact roadster.”


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Plutynski, Anyaaplutyns@wustl.edu0000-0003-3791-7720
Keywords: laws, unification, integration, explanation, prediction, biology
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Laws of Nature
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: A Plutynski
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2023 14:09
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2023 14:09
Item ID: 21966
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Laws of Nature
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 2023
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21966

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