Biological Laws: Analogies and Allometries

The question of whether there are laws in ecology is important. If there are no ecological laws, this would seem to distinguish ecology from other branches of science. It could also make a difference to the methodology of ecology. If there are no laws, ecologists would be in the business of merely supplying a suite of useful models. These models would need to be assessed for their empirical adequacy but not for their ability to capture fundamental truths. If, ecology does have laws, this invites further questions about what these laws are and why the best candidates for ecological laws are not exceptionless.

This project will deliver a better understanding of biological laws. We will argue that analogical reasoning is a legitimate form of reasoning in science, and that such reasoning forms the basis for the view that the metabolic allometries in ecology are genuine laws.

Project leader(s):
  • Mark Colyvan (Sydney)
STIAS fellow(s):
  • Lev Ginzburg (Stony Brook)
  • John Damuth (Santa Barbara)

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