If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

Two Common Errors in Explaining Biological and Psychological Phenomena

William Bechtel
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 49, No. 4 (Dec., 1982), pp. 549-574
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/187165
Page Count: 26
  • Download PDF
  • Cite this Item

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Two Common Errors in Explaining Biological and Psychological Phenomena
Preview not available

Abstract

One way in which philosophy of science can perform a valuable normative function for science is by showing characteristic errors made in scientific research programs and proposing ways in which such errors can be avoided or corrected. This paper examines two errors that have commonly plagued research in biology and psychology: 1) functional localization errors that arise when parts of a complex system are assigned functions which these parts are not themselves able to perform, and 2) vacuous functional explanations in which one provides an analysis that does account for the inputs and outputs of a system but does not employ the same set of functions to produce this output as does the natural system. These two kinds of error usually arise when researchers limit their investigation to one type of evidence. Historically, correction of these errors has awaited researchers who have employed the opposite type of evidence. This paper explores the tendency to commit these errors by examining examples from historical and contemporary science and proposes a dialectical process through which researchers can avoid or correct such errors in the future.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
549
    549
  • Thumbnail: Page 
550
    550
  • Thumbnail: Page 
551
    551
  • Thumbnail: Page 
552
    552
  • Thumbnail: Page 
553
    553
  • Thumbnail: Page 
554
    554
  • Thumbnail: Page 
555
    555
  • Thumbnail: Page 
556
    556
  • Thumbnail: Page 
557
    557
  • Thumbnail: Page 
558
    558
  • Thumbnail: Page 
559
    559
  • Thumbnail: Page 
560
    560
  • Thumbnail: Page 
561
    561
  • Thumbnail: Page 
562
    562
  • Thumbnail: Page 
563
    563
  • Thumbnail: Page 
564
    564
  • Thumbnail: Page 
565
    565
  • Thumbnail: Page 
566
    566
  • Thumbnail: Page 
567
    567
  • Thumbnail: Page 
568
    568
  • Thumbnail: Page 
569
    569
  • Thumbnail: Page 
570
    570
  • Thumbnail: Page 
571
    571
  • Thumbnail: Page 
572
    572
  • Thumbnail: Page 
573
    573
  • Thumbnail: Page 
574
    574