What Makes Biology Unique?: Considerations on the Autonomy of a Scientific Discipline
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What Makes Biology Unique?: Considerations on the Autonomy of a Scientific Discipline

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  46 ratings  ·  5 reviews
This collection of revised and new essays argues that biology is an autonomous science rather than a branch of the physical sciences. Ernst Mayr, widely considered the most eminent evolutionary biologist of the 20th century, offers insights on the history of evolutionary thought, critiques the conditions of philosophy to the science of biology, and comments on several of t...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1997)
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At some point I realized that basically everyone who is well known in the philosophy of science, everywhere on the positivist-anarchist spectrum, writes very selectively about a very small number of "test cases" -- planetary astronomy, relativity and quantum mechanics, phlogiston, and -- and thus we have "debates" in philosophy of science between competing "theories" that might work well for physics, but are all completely inapplicable to geology, biology, psychology, or, well, anything naturali...more
this book actually consists of a mix of previous and new essays by the evolutionary biologist and philosopher of science ernst mayr. it is a fairly technical treatise describing, among other things, why biology cannot be analyzed according the reductionist principles that have guided the physical sciences. as such, i wouldn't necessarily recommend it to the non-scientist.

on the other hand if the physical or biological scientist reader can forgive the elder statesman some philosophical grumpines...more
Garrett Mccutcheon
Mayr lays out his vision of a philosophy of science as it concerns biology. In doing so, he provides clear and concise refutations of a number of philosophies that other authors have put forward. Mayr occasionally could be accused of making an argument from authority; however, one could say that he's earned the right to make those arguments. It should be noted that this work draws heavily on prior works of Mayr's and as such serves mostly as a primer or condensed description of his philosophy.
Mayr was the one of foremost scholars of evolutionary biology since Darwin. In this collection of essays, published just months before his death at the age of 100, Mayr discusses why Biology is a science different from all others, and why Darwin's Theory of Evolution by means of Natural Selection is actually 5 theories that can be independently tested. It is this observation that goes a long way to understanding the difficulties in the acceptance of Darwin's work.

Mayr was a scientist of great i...more
Jason Gordon
A really incredible book. Ernst Mayr is quite a smart scientist and an excellent philosopher. Philosophers of science as well as physicists have a lot to learn from this text.
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Ernst Walter Mayr (July 5, 1904 – February 3, 2005) was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists. He was also a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, and historian of science. His work contributed to the conceptual revolution that led to the modern evolutionary synthesis of Mendelian genetics, systematics, and Darwinian evolution, and to the development of the bio...more
More about Ernst Mayr...
What Evolution Is This is Biology: The Science of the Living World The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution and Inheritance One Long Argument The Birds of Northern Melanesia: Speciation, Ecology & Biogeography

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