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The Supervenience of Biological Concepts

Alexander Rosenberg
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 45, No. 3 (Sep., 1978), pp. 368-386
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/187024
Page Count: 19
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The Supervenience of Biological Concepts
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Abstract

In this paper the concept of supervenience is employed to explain the relationship between fitness as employed in the theory of natural selection and population biology and the physical, behavioral and ecological properties of organisms that are the subjects of lower level theories in the life sciences. The aim of this analysis is to account simultaneously for the fact that the theory of natural selection is a synthetic body of empirical claims, and for the fact that it continues to be misconstrued, even by biologists, for a tautological system. The notion of supervenience is then employed to provide a new statement of the relation of Mendelian predicates to molecular ones in order to provide for the commensurability and potential reducibility of Mendelian to molecular genetics in a way that circumvents the theoretical complications which appear to stand in the way of such a reduction.

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