How Kant Matters For Biology

A Philosophical History

Author(s) Andrew Jones

Language: English

Genre(s): Philosophy

Series: Political Philosophy Now

  • March 2023 · 240 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Hardback - 9781786839732
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781786839749
  • · eBook - epub - 9781786839756

About The Book

Kant denied biology the status of proper science, yet his account of the organism has received much attention from both philosophical and historical perspectives. This book argues that Kant’s influence on biology in the British Isles is in part due to misunderstandings of his philosophy. Highlighting these misunderstandings exposes how Kant influenced various aspects of scientific method, despite the underlying incompatibility between transcendental idealism and scientific naturalism. This book raises criticism against scientific naturalism as it demonstrates how some concepts that are central to biology have been historically justified in ways that are incompatible with naturalism. Approaching current issues in philosophy of biology from a Kantian orientation offers new perspectives to debates including our knowledge of laws of nature, the unity of science, and our understanding of organisms. Moreover, new avenues are forged to demonstrate the benefits of adopting Kant-inspired approaches to issues in contemporary philosophy of science.   


‘How Kant Matters for Biology offers a decisive contribution to both Kant scholarship and philosophy of biology. The author challenges us to rethink Kant’s influence on British bioscience from Whewell to Darwin, and thereby to reimagine the theoretical implications of Kant’s account of teleological judgement for contemporary work on biological autonomy (or for several of the most pressing questions in philosophy of science, including the unity of science, the epistemic status of natural laws, and biological individuality). It is ambitious in scope without giving up on technical clarity – a landmark in the contemporary literature on Kant and biology.’

Andrew Cooper, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Warwick


1. Understanding influence: the role of transcendental idealism for the development of biology
2. Kant’s response to Hume and the status of laws in contemporary philosophy of science
3. Kant’s influence on Whewell
4. Whewell’s influence on Darwin and role of design for the organism
5. Kant’s significance for contemporary philosophy of biology

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones is an impact fellow in the School of Education at the University of Exeter.

Read more