Abstractions, Idealizations, and Evolutionary Biology

  • Peter Godfrey-Smith
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 266)

Many philosophers agree that idealization and abstraction are key aspects of science, especially scientific work based on the construction and assessment of models. And while much of the initial philosophical work in this area was concerned with physics, it has become clear that biology, especially evolutionary biology, is another area in which these phenomena play a very significant role. But despite a consensus on the importance of idealization and abstraction, there is not much consensus on what these things are, and what exactly they achieve. Here I will take the opportunity to offer some general ideas about idealization, abstraction, and the relations between them, emphasizing applications to evolutionary theory.


Evolutionary Theory Characteristic Error Informational Gene Idealize Description Wrong Turn 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Godfrey-Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Professor of PhilosophyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations