2007 – The Influence of Genetics on Philosophy of Science: Classical Genetics and the Structuralist View of Theories

  • “The Influence of Genetics on Philosophy of Science: Classical Genetics and the Structuralist View of Theories”, en Fagot-Largeault, A., Torres, J.M. y S. Rahman (eds.), The Influence of Genetics on Contemporary Thinking, Dordrecht: Springer, 2007, pp. 99-115.

Taking as starting point the first textbook of classical genetics that clearly exemplifies all the features that Kuhn takes to be constitutive of a science textbook, Sinnott and Dunn’s (1925), as well as Darden’s (1991) and Schaffner’s (1980, 1986, 1993) analyses of the structure of biomedical and/or biological theories, I will discuss the problem of the existence of laws in biology. The framework of this discussion is provided by the structuralist conception of theories. The result of this analysis will be the identification of the fundamental law of classical genetics: the law of matching, which satisfies all weak necessary conditions for law-likeness that are postulated by the structuralist approach of theories, and the recognition of the so-called ‘Mendel’s Laws’ as special laws of classical genetics. This shows that the structuralist view is capable of providing an interesting perspective on genetics, which, in turn, has a positive effect on philosophy of science, because it shows we have a framework at hand in which important philosophical problems can fruitfully be addressed.

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2006 – Fundamental Laws and Laws of Biology

  • “Fundamental Laws and Laws of Biology”, en Ernst, G. y K.-G. Niebergall (eds.), Philosophie der Wissenschaft – Wissenschaft der Philosophie. Festschrift für C.Ulises Moulines zum 60. Geburstag, Paderborn (Alemania): Mentis-Verlag, 2006, pp. 129-155.


In this paper, I discuss the problem of scientific laws in general and laws of biology in particular. After reviewing the debate around the existence of laws in biology, I examine the subject in the light of the structuralist notion of a fundamental law and argue for the law of matching as the fundamental law of genetics.

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2000 – Classical Genetics and the Theory-Net of Genetics


This article presents a reconstruction of the so-called classical, formal or Mendelian genetics, which is intended to be more complete and adequate than existing reconstructions. This reconstruction has been carried out with the instruments, duly modified and extended with respect to the case under consideration, of the structuralist conception of theories. The so-called Mendel’s Laws, as well as linkage genetics and gene mapping are formulated in a precise manner while the global structure of genetics is represented as a theory-net. These results are of methodological, philosophical and didactical relevance.

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2005 – Comentarios a “Explicación teórica y compromisos ontológicos: un modelo estructuralista” de C.U. Moulines

  • “Comentarios a ‘Explicación teórica y compromisos ontológicos: un modelo estructuralista’ de C.U. Moulines”, Enrahonar: quaderns de filosofia 37 (2005): 55-59.


En este comentario al trabajo de Ulises Moulines no me referiré al interesante análisis de los compromisos ontológicos que profundiza los tratamientos de los llamados «modelos de datos», ni tampoco discutiré los principios metafísicos generales presupuestos en su planteo, adoptando una posición experimentalista, instrumentalista, anti-realista, positivista o empirista. Me centraré en la última parte de su artículo en la que desarrolla los vínculos entre el enfoque causalista de Wesley Salmon y el análisis estructuralista de la explicación entendida como subsunción teórica, al relacionarlo con el análisis estructuralista de los términos teóricos, a la luz de cierta comprensión general compartida de la labor epistemológica.
Palabras clave: explicación, estructuralismo, compromiso ontológico, subsunción teórica, modelos.


In this comment on the work by Ulises Moulines I shall not refer to the interesting analysis of the ontological commitments that depends the treatment of the so-called «data models», nor shall I debate the general metaphysical principles proposed in his approach, adopting an experimentalist, instrumentalist, anti-realistic, positivist or empirical stance. I shall focus on the last part of his article in which he elaborates on the links between Wesley Salmon’s causalist approach and the structuralist analysis of explanation viewed as theoretical subsumption, as he relates it to the structural analysis of the theoretical terms in light of a certain general shared understanding of the job of epistemology.
Key words: explanation, structuralism, ontological commitment, theoretical subsumption, models.

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2000 – The Logical Structure of Classical Genetics

  • “The Logical Structure of Classical Genetics” (escrito con Wolfgang Balzer), Journal for General Philosophy of Science 31, n° 2 (2000): 243-266.

SUMMARY. We present a reconstruction of so-called classical, formal or Mendelian genetics using a notation which we believe is more legible than that of earlier accounts, and lends itself easily to computer implementation, for instance in PROLOG. By drawing from, and emending, earlier work of Balzer and Dawe (1986, 1997), the present account presents the three most important lines of development of classical genetics: the so-called Mendel’s laws, linkage genetics and gene mapping, in the form of a theory-net. This shows that the set theoretic representation format used in the structuralist approach to the philosophy of science also applies to the domain of genetic theories. The reconstruction is intended to lend more clarity to the methodological, philosophical and didactical discussions of the foundations of genetics, and on the other hand to defend a formally, logically minded view of theories which seems to have become contested through the work of Feyerabend, Kuhn and Kitcher.
Key words: axiomatization, classical genetics, fundamental laws, genetics, structuralism

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1996 – En memoria de Thomas S. Kuhn

  • “En memoria de Thomas S. Kuhn” (escrito con César Lorenzano), Redes. Revista de Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia 7 (1996): 217-236.

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2011 – What Would Have Happened if Darwin Had Known Mendel (or Mendel’s Work)?

  • “What Would Have Happened if Darwin Had Known Mendel (or Mendel’s Work)?”, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33 (2011): 3-48.


The question posed by the title is usually answered by saying that the “synthesis” between the theory of evolution by natural selection and classical genetics, which took place in 1930s-40s, would have taken place much earlier if Darwin had been aware of Mendel and his work. What is more, it nearly happened: it would have been enough if Darwin had cut the pages of the offprint of Mendel’s work that was in his library and read them! Or, if Mendel had come across Darwin in London or paid him a visit at his house in the outskirts! (on occasion of Mendel’s trip in 1862 to that city). The aim of the present paper is to provide elements for quite a different answer, based on further historical evidence, especially on Mendel’s works, some of which mention Darwins’s studies.

Keywords – Darwin, Mendel, hybridism, speciation, evolution

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