Levels of organization: a deflationary account

Biology and Philosophy 30 (1):39-58 (2015)
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Abstract
The idea of levels of organization plays a central role in the philosophy of the life sciences. In this article, I first examine the explanatory goals that have motivated accounts of levels of organization. I then show that the most state-of-the-art and scientifically plausible account of levels of organization, the account of levels of mechanism proposed by Bechtel and Craver, is fundamentally problematic. Finally, I argue that the explanatory goals can be reached by adopting a deflationary approach, where levels of organization give way to more well-defined and fundamental notions, such as scale and composition.
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First archival date: 2015-10-10
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