Dosis sola facit venenum: reconceptualising biological realism


BIOLOGY & PHILOSOPHY, vol.37, no.6, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 37 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10539-022-09884-9
  • Journal Name: BIOLOGY & PHILOSOPHY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, Periodicals Index Online, BIOSIS, Geobase, Philosopher's Index
  • Keywords: Free energy principle, Dynamical causal modelling, Mechanical explanations, Accuracy, Dosage, FREE-ENERGY, STRATEGY, MODELS
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Richard Levins's (Am Sci 54(4):421-431, 1966) paper sets a landmark for the significance of scientific model-making in biology. Colombo and Palacios (Biol Philos 36(5):1-26. 10.1007/S10539-021-09818-X, 2021) have recently built their critique of the explanatory power of the Free Energy Principle on Levins's insight into the relationship between generality, realism, and precision. This paper addresses the issue of the plausibility of biological explanations that are grounded in the Free Energy Principle (FEP) and deals with the question of the realist fortitude of FEP's theoretical framework. It indicates that what is required for establishing the plausibility of the explanation of a target system given a model of that system is the dosage or the harmony between the generality and accuracy of explanatory models. This would also provide a basis for seeing how scientific realism could be a viable option with respect to FEP.