Biology as involving laws and inconceivable without them

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is an old attempt to divide the sciences into sciences of laws and the historical sciences. More recently, John Beatty has drawn the distinction so that biology is a historical science and urged that there are no genuinely biological laws. This paper shows that there are indeed biological laws, specifically statistical ones, notably in evolutionary theory. Moreover, all or almost all other areas of biology involve laws as well. Even history involves laws. Finally, the paper shows that this pervasiveness of laws is compatible with the most basic commitments of those who, like Beatty, would claim that biology is only historical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-66
Number of pages6
JournalTheory in Biosciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Beatty
  • Biology
  • History
  • Laws
  • Windelband

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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