Biology and Society: Reflections on Methodology


307 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919491-20-0
DDC 574.01




Edited by Mohan Matthen and R.X. Ware
Reviewed by Patrick Colgan

Patrick Colgan is the executive director of the Canadian Museum of
Nature in Ottawa.


This 20th annual supplement to the Canadian Journal of Philosophy
reproduces conference papers on various aspects of philosophy of
science. Though diverse in their emphases, most of the papers are
engaged in criticisms of such traditions as essentialism, positivism,
and reductionism.

Kathleen Okruhlik provides a clear and considered feminist critique of
gender ideology in biology. With characteristic zest and candor, Michael
Ruse reviews the story of relations between evolutionary biology and
cultural values. Nancy Holmstrom tackles the issue of humanity, gender,
and race from the perspectives of Marxism and feminism. Types of
individualism are treated by Andrew Levine with an astonishing omission
of important biological material. Superior treatments of aspects of
individualism are provided by John Dupré and Ronald de Sousa. William
Bechtel contributes a lucid and fresh examination of biological and
social constraints. In a rambling discussion occupying a quarter of the
book, William Wimsatt tackles the ontology of complex systems. Paul
Thompson persuasively advocates the use of mathematical models to deal
with complexity and its dynamics.

This collection is best suited to the advanced specialist in the field
of philosophy of science.


“Biology and Society: Reflections on Methodology,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024,