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Is Biology a Provincial Science?

Ronald Munson
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 42, No. 4 (Dec., 1975), pp. 428-447
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/187222
Page Count: 20
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Is Biology a Provincial Science?
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Abstract

My thesis is that biology is most plausibly regarded as a universal, as distinct from a provincial, science. First, I develop the general notion of a provincial science, formulate three criteria for applying the concept, and present brief examples illustrating their use. Second, I argue that a consideration of population genetics as a characteristic example of a basic biological theory strengthens the prior presumption that biology is not a provincial science. Finally, I examine two arguments to the effect that biology is a provincial science. The first concerns biology's exclusively terrestrial evidence base, the second the logical character of its laws. I introduce considerations that weaken the persuasiveness of the first argument and then show that the second one rests upon a false premise and so should be rejected.

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