Holism and Reductionism in Biology and Ecology

Holism and Reductionism in Biology and Ecology : The Mutual Dependence of Higher and Lower Level Research Programmes

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Holism and reductionism are traditionally seen as incompatible views or approaches to nature. Here Looijen argues that they should rather be seen as mutually dependent and hence co-operating research programmes. He sheds some interesting new light on the emergence thesis, its relation to the reduction thesis, and on the role and status of functional explanations in biology. He discusses several examples of reduction in both biology and ecology, showing the mutual dependence of holistic and reductionist research programmes. Ecologists are offered separate chapters, clarifying some major, yet highly and controversial ecological concepts, such as `community', `habitat', and `niche'. The book is the first in-depth study of the philosophy of ecology.
Readership: Specialists in the philosophy of science, especially the philosophy of biology, biologists and ecologists interested in the philosophy of their discipline. Also of interest to other scientists concerned with the holism-reductionism issue.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 162 x 236 x 28mm | 662.24g
  • Dordrecht, Netherlands
  • English
  • 2000 ed.
  • XXII, 352 p.
  • 0792360761
  • 9780792360766

Table of contents

Preface. Introduction. Part 1: Reduction and co-operation in biology. 1. Holism and reductionism. 2. Reduction of laws and theories. 3. Reduction of concepts. 4. Emergence, reduction and co-operating research programmes. 5. Co-operating research programmes: reduction of the Bohr effect. 6. Functional explanations in biology. Part 2: Reduction and co-operation in ecology. 7. The reduction problem in ecology. 8. Ecological communities: conceptual problems and definition. 9. The distinction between habitat and niche. 10. The reduction of the Lotka/Volterra competition model to modern niche theory. 11. Co-operation in island biogeography. 12. The inhibitory effect of the holism-reductionism dispute: a controversy in island biogeography and its solution. Epilogue. Notes. References. Name Index.
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