2005 – “Ejemplares, modelos y principios en la genética clásica”

  • “Ejemplares, modelos y principios en la genética clásica” (“Exemplars, Models and Principles in Classical Genetics”) (in Spanish), Scientiae Studia. Revista Latino-Americana de Filosofía e História da Ciência, 3(2) (2005): 185-203. ISSN: 1678-3166.


Tomando como punto de partida el libro de Sinnott y Dunn, Principles of Genetics: An Elementary Text, with Problems, que podría ser considerado el primer libro de texto de genética clásica en sentido kuhniano, y el análisis de la estructura de las teorías biológicas y/o biomédicas realizado por Darden y Schaffner, discutiré el problema de la existencia de leyes fundamentales o principios-guía en la biología, a la luz del examen de la genética clásica llevado a cabo en el marco de la concepción estructuralista de las teorías científicas.
Palabras clave: libro de texto, teoría biológica, genética clásica, ejemplar, modelo, principio, ley fundamental, ley especial.


Taking as starting point Kuhn’s analysis of science textbooks and its application to Sinnott and Dunn’s Principles of Genetics: An Elementary Text, with Problems (1925), it will be discussed the problem of the existence of laws in biology. In particular, it will be showed, in accordance with the proposals of Darden (1991) and Schaffner (1980, 1986, 1993), the relevance of the exemplars, diagrammatically or graphically represented, in the way in which is carried out the teaching and learning process of classical genetics, inasmuch as the information contained in them, indispensable for the right development of that process, exceeds the information contained in the “laws” linguistically articulated and presented in the textbooks. However, it will be maintained that the information is implicit in the law that according to the structuralist concept of fundamental law and the reconstruction of genetics presented by Balzer & Dawe (1990), and later developed by Balzer & Lorenzano (1997) and Lorenzano (1995, 2000, 2002a) could be considered the fundamental law of classical genetics,the law of matching, clearly identified in this paper.
Keywords: textbook, biological theory, classical genetics, exemplar, model, principle, fundamental law, special law.

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2014-2015 – “Principios-guía y leyes fundamentales en la metateoría estructuralista”

  • “Principios-guía y leyes fundamentales en la metateoría estructuralista”, Cuadernos del Sur 43-44 (2014-2015): 35-74. ISSN: 1668-7434 (Print), 2362-2989 (Online).


El objetivo del presente trabajo es proponer una caracterización de principio-guía y ley fundamental en el marco de la metateoría estructuralista. Se señalan cinco “condiciones necesarias”, “condiciones necesarias débiles” o «síntomas» que debe satisfacer o mostrar un enunciado para que sea considerado como una ley fundamental de una teoría: 1) poseer carácter arracimado o sinóptico, 2) valer en todas las aplicaciones intencionales, 3) ser cuasi-vacuo (“empíricamente irrestricto” o, si se prefiere, “sintético a priori” o incluso “analítico a posteriori”), 4) cumplir con un papel sistematizador y 5) poseer fuerza modal, y se caracteriza a los principios-guía como leyes fundamentales de un tipo peculiar, a saber: como leyes fundamentales que poseen las siguientes características adicionales: contar con al menos un “funcional” dentro de sus términos T-teóricos y cuantificar existencialmente sobre él. Luego se relaciona del análisis presentado con el problema de las leyes de la naturaleza. Y se concluye con la discusión de algunos posibles contraejemplos.


Principios-guía; Leyes fundamentales; Metateoría estructuralista.

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2016 – “Meta-Theoretical Contributions to the Constitution of a Model-Based Didactics of Science”

  • “Meta-Theoretical Contributions to the Constitution of a Model-Based Didactics of Science” (escrito con Yefrin Ariza y Agustín Adúriz-Bravo), Science & Education (2016). DOI: 10.1007/s11191-016-9845-3. ISSN: 0926-7220 (Print), 1573-1901 (Online).


There is nowadays consensus in the community of didactics of science (i.e. science education understood as an academic discipline) regarding the need to include the philosophy of science in didactical research, science teacher education, curriculum design, and the practice of science education in all educational levels. Some authors have identified an ever-increasing use of the concept of ‘theoretical model’, stemming from the so-called semantic view of scientific theories. However, it can be recognised that, in didactics of science, there are over-simplified transpositions of the idea of model (and of other metatheoretical ideas). In this sense, contemporary philosophy of science is often blurred or distorted in the science education literature. In this paper, we address the discussion around some meta-theoretical concepts that are introduced into didactics of science due to their perceived educational value. We argue for the existence of a ‘semantic family’, and we characterise four different versions of semantic views existing within the family. In particular, we seek to contribute to establishing a model-based didactics of science mainly supported in this semantic family.


Didactics of Science; Theoretical Model; Contemporary Philosophy of Science; Semantic View

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2015 – “Are Natural Selection Explanatory Models A Priori?”

  • “Are Natural Selection Explanatory Models A Priori?” (escrito con José A. Díez), Biology & Philosophy 30(6) (2015): 787-809. DOI: 10.1007/s10539-015-9498-7. ISSN: 0169-3867 (Print), 1572-8404 (Online).


The epistemic status of Natural Selection (NS) has seemed intriguing to biologists and philosophers since the very beginning of the theory to our present times. One prominent contemporary example is Elliott Sober, who claims that NS, and some other theories in biology, and maybe in economics, are peculiar in including explanatory models/conditionals that are a priori in a sense in which explanatory models/conditionals in Classical Mechanics (CM) and most other standard theories are not. Sober’s argument focuses on some ‘‘would promote’’ sentences that according to him, play a central role in NS explanations and are both causal and a priori. Lange and Rosenberg criticize Sober arguing that, though there may be some unspecific a priori causal claims, there are not a priori causal claims that specify particular causal factors. Although we basically agree with Lange and Rosenberg’s criticism, we think it remains silent about a second important element in Sober’s dialectics, namely his claim that, contrary to what happens in mechanics, in NS explanatory conditionals are a priori, and that this is so in quite specific explanatory models. In this paper we criticize this second element of Sober’s argument by analyzing what we take to be the four possible interpretations of Sober’s claim, and argue that, terminological preferences aside, the possible senses in which explanatory models in NS can qualify, or include elements that can qualify, as a priori, also apply to CM and other standard, highly unified theories. We conclude that this second claim is unsound, or at least that more needs to be said in order to sustain that NS explanatory models are a priori in a sense in which CM models are not.

Keywords: Natural selection – Sober – A priori explanatory models

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2013 – Bibliography of Structuralism III (1995-2012, and Additions)

  • “Bibliography of Structuralism III (1995-2012, and Additions)” (escrito con Cláudio Abreu y C. Ulises Moulines), Metatheoria. Revista de Filosofía e Historia de la Ciencia/Journal of Philosophy and History of Science/Revista de Filosofia e História da Ciência 3(2) (2013): 1-36. ISSN: 1853-2322. eISSN: 1853-2330.


In two occasions a Bibliography of Structuralism has been published in Erkenntnis (1989, 1994). Since then a lot of water has flowed under the bridge and the structuralist program has shown a continuous development. The aim of the present bibliography is to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the publication of An Architectonic for Science–structuralism’s main reference work–and of its recent translation into Spanish by updating the previous bibliographies with titles which have appeared since 1994 as well as before that year but which are not included in them. As in the former deliveries, this bibliography only covers books and articles that are concerned directly with the structuralist approach in the philosophy of science. We would like to thank the many colleagues who have helped us in collecting all the information. Notwithstanding we apologize in advance for the possible entries that we missed to include in this third Bibliography of Structuralism.

Keywords: bibliography – structuralism – philosophy of science

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2013 – The Semantic Conception and the Structuralist View of Theories: A Critique of Suppe’s Criticisms

  • “The Semantic Conception and the Structuralist View of Theories: A Critique of Suppe’s Criticisms”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 44 (2013): 600-607.DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2013.09.001. ISSN: 0039-3681.


Different conceptions of scientific theories, such as the state spaces approach of Bas van Fraassen, the phase spaces approach of Frederick Suppe, the set-theoretical approach of Patrick Suppes, and the structuralist view of Joseph Sneed et al. are usually put together into one big family. In addition, the definite article is normally used, and thus we speak of the semantic conception (view or approach) of theories and of its different approaches (variants or versions). However, in The Semantic Conception of Theories and Scientific Realism (Urban and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989), starting from certain remarks already made in “Theory Structure” (in P. Asquith and H. Kyburg (Eds.), Current Research in Philosophy of Science, East Lansing: Philosophy of Science Association, 1979, pp. 317–338), Frederick Suppe excludes the structuralist view as well as other “European” versions from the semantic conception of theories. In this paper I will critically examine the reasons put forward by Suppe for this decision and, later, I will provide a general characterization of the semantic family and of the structuralist view of theories in such a way as to justify the inclusion of the structuralist view (as well as other “European” versions) as a member of this family.


Semantic conception of theories; Structuralist view of theories; Semantic family; Frederick Suppe; Joseph D. Sneed; Thomas S. Kuhn

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2014 – What is the Status of the Hardy-Weinberg Law within Population Genetics?

  • “What is the Status of the Hardy-Weinberg Law within Population Genetics?”, en Galavotti, M.C., Nemeth, E. y F. Stadler (eds.), European Philosophy of Science – Philosophy of Science in Europe and the Viennese Heritage, Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 17, Dordrecht: Springer, 2014, pp. 159-172. ISBN 978-3-319-01898-0.

The aim of this paper is to further develop van Fraassen’s diagnosis, expanding a previous analysis of the fundamental law of classical genetics and the status of the so-called ‘Mendel’s laws’. According to this diagnosis the Hardy-Weinberg law: 1) cannot be considered as axiom (or fundamental law) for classical population genetics, since it is a law that describes an equilibrium that 2) holds only under certain special conditions, and 3) only determines a subclass of models, 4) whose generalized form (and fundamental law) being shading off into logical vacuity, and 5) more complex variants of the fundamental law (and of the Hardy-Weinberg law) can be “deduced” for more realistic assumptions.

In order to achieve this, I will use notions of the structuralist view of theories, a version of the semantic view of theories that is related to but different from that of van Fraassen’s. These are the notions of fundamental law (or guiding-principle), specialization, and special law.

Having as a background a structuralist reconstruction of classical population genetics, I will show why the Hardy-Weinberg law should not be in fact considered the fundamental law of such a theory, but a special law (and not even a “terminal” specialization, i.e. a “non-terminal” specialization).

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