Holism and Reductionism in Biology and Ecology

The Mutual Dependence of Higher and Lower Level Research Programmes

  • Rick C. Looijen

Part of the Episteme book series (EPIS, volume 23)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XXI
  2. Reduction and Co-Operation in Biology

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Rick C. Looijen
      Pages 3-24
    3. Rick C. Looijen
      Pages 25-41
    4. Rick C. Looijen
      Pages 43-61
    5. Rick C. Looijen
      Pages 107-136
  3. Reduction and Co-Operation in Ecology

  4. Epilogue

    1. Rick C. Looijen
      Pages 301-306
  5. Erratum

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 307-350

About this book


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.


Seen biogeography biology ecology philosophy philosophy of biology philosophy of science reduction science

Authors and affiliations

  • Rick C. Looijen
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of GroningenThe Netherlands

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2000
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Print ISBN 978-90-481-5364-0
  • Online ISBN 978-94-015-9560-5
  • Buy this book on publisher's site