Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Rose: Lifelines

Determinism, omniscience, and the multiplicity of explanations

Mary Midgley a1c1
a1 Formerly Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, Newcastle NE2 2JP, United Kingdom


Complete determinism is, as Karl Popper said, “a daydream of omniscience.” Determinism is usually conceived as linked with a particular science whose explanations are deemed fundamental. As Rose rightly points out, biological enquiry includes many different kinds of question. Genetic determinism, making genes central to biology, is therefore biased and misguided. The crucial unit must be the whole organism.

c1 IA Collingwood Terrace, Newcastle on Tyne NE2 2JP, United Kingdom