Philosophy of Biology: An Historico-Critical Characterization

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    Literally speaking, “Philosophy of biology” is a rather old expression. William Whewell coined it in 1840, at the very time he introduced the expression “philosophy of science”. Whewell was fond of creating neologisms, like Auguste Comte, his French counterpart in the field of the philosophical reflection about science. Historians of science know that a few years earlier, in 1834, Whewell had generated a small scandal when he proposed the word “scientist” as a general term by which “the students of the knowledge of the material world” could describe themselves, and distinguish themselves from artists. The term “philosopher”, Whewell argued, was too wide. A new generic term, more or less equivalent to the French term “savant”, was needed in order to prevent the disintegration of science that seemed to flow from its specialization in modern times.