A practical philosophy for the life sciences by Wim J. van der Steen

By Wim J. van der Steen

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2. The following two statements have a different status from a methodological point of view. What is the nature of the difference? Statement A Predation causes an increase of diversity in prey species. Statement B. Predation causes mortality in prey species. 3. Lovelock (1979, 1988) has proposed that the earth must be regarded as an organism. He calls it by the name of Gaia. Lovelock's argument is that the earth, like organisms, has the feature of self-regulation. That is, there are mechanisms which keep conditions on the earth between narrowly defined bounds.

3. Empirical Reference, Operationality and Coherence So far I have only dealt with one methodological criterion which concepts must satisfy, the criterion of clarity. It is obvious that there are other criteria to be satisfied. First and foremost, concepts are useful only if we are able to assume on good grounds that they apply to the things we investigate. The criterion of applicability demands that it is possible to obtain information about this. The criterion can be subdivided into a criterion of empirical reference and a criterion of operationality, which I will discuss in this order.

In that case 'are' would not represent a logical connection. On the latter interpretation, the thesis that diseases are undesirable by no means implies that theories about disease are necessarily normative. Even if one opts for the first interpretation, the elaboration of non-normative theories concerning biological aspects of disease remains possible. My comments will not suffice to settle disputes over normativism. They do show that the argument in the quotation is inadequate. It is convenient to have name tags for two categories of features which played a role in the examples I gave.

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