Subscribe to our newsletter
Picture of Evolutionary Analogies

Evolutionary Analogies

Is the Process of Scientific Change Analogous to the Organic Change?

Author(s): Giulio Napolitano, Barbara Gabriella Renzi

Book Description

“Advocates of the evolutionary analogy claim that mechanisms governing scientific change are analogous to those at work in organic evolution – above all, natural selection. By referring to the works of the most influential proponents of evolutionary analogies (Toulmin, Campbell, Hull and, most notably, Kuhn) the authors discuss whether and to what extent their use of the analogy is appropriate. A careful and often illuminating perusal of the theoretical scope of the terms employed, as well as of the varying contexts within which the analogy is appealed to in contemporary debates, leads to the conclusion that such general theories of selective processes are either too sketchy or eventually not persuasive, if not altogether based on flawed views of evolutionary biology. By clarifying what is at stake, the analysis carried out in the book sheds new light on one of the dominant theories of scientific progress. It also invites criticism, of course – but that is the very fuel of philosophical confrontation.”
– Stefano Gattei, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Lucca

“This book presents a serious challenge to those, like David Hull, who seek to model scientific change as an evolutionary process. The authors point out that although there are similarities between the processes of scientific change and organic evolution, the dissimilarities present formidable difficulties to construing the relation as anything more than a weak analogy. Their argument employs what they call a ‘type hierarchical’ approach that promises to be a powerful tool for the classification of similarities between theories in all fields.”
– Michael Bradie, Department of Philosophy, Bowling Green State University

“This is a most interesting discussion of the analogy between biological and scientific change. Particularly commendable is the close attention paid to the thinking of the late David Hull and his pathbreaking work on this issue.”
– Michael Ruse, History and Philosophy of Science, Florida State University


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-3354-7
ISBN-10: 1-4438-3354-1
Date of Publication: 01/11/2011
Pages / Size: 155 / A5
Price: £34.99


Barbara Gabriella Renzi is a researcher and teaches for the Queen’s University of Belfast and the Open University. She studied Philosophy of Science, specialised in Bioethics at ‘La Sapienza’ in Rome and completed her PhD in Philosophy of Science at QUB. She holds degrees in modern languages and is also a published poet and a painter.

Giulio Napolitano is a researcher with the NICR and the CenSSOR, Queen’s University Belfast, and the MISTRA foundation, Sweden. He holds degrees in Philosophy, in Physics and in Bioinformatics.