I am among these biologists who includes a soft spot for what is budding in biology.
It can be practically as if biology may be the one topic on the planet that is certainly often shifting.
However, more than the years, some words have grow to be “blessed” and have come to be part of the prevalent language of science and scientists in general. One particular such term is known as “flaccid definition.”
This term was given to me by a bioethicist friend, Dr. Leslie Carpenter. She was pointing out that though there are many words which might be virtually meaningless with out their proper definition, this particular word does not match into any of your categories. It also doesn’t have a dictionary definition, so it truly is essential that we have an understanding of what it signifies before we get too excited about the word.
Flaccid definition is often applied to the biological sciences in a selection of methods. It could mean to make use of the word at an extremely leisurely pace and not take it to the next level. It may imply to utilize the word in an abstract or poetic approach to describe an occasion.
And, certainly, it might imply that the biological sciences should avoid a flaccid definition. However, with regards to evolutionary biology, for instance, the word appears to fit.
With all of the items that we understand plus the varieties of stories that we tell, it could be tempting to embellish a story, such as the story with the 3 trilobites or the “clam-eating” aliens, and to consist of them within the story with the rise of mankind. Nevertheless, the rise of humanity seems to be as a great deal an occasion inside the life of one particular individual because it is inside the life of a whole species.
The creation of humanity is usually a correct story that fits inside the parameters on the biological sciences. With no an evolutionary story, it’s tough to explain the life history of an individual or of a species.
One from the problems with making use of the word in an abstract way is that it is simple to misuse it. We can use it in an evolutionary method to describe what occurred, but we must nevertheless demonstrate that we’re displaying a clear example on the finish result.
Another challenge with employing the word in an abstract way is that it suggests that we are engaging within the scientific version of “theory.” When we use flaccid definition, we’re too close to an evolutionary story.
Of course, we don’t really need to assume that we know all the facts in order to do what we need to do. We can still produce scientific stories that consist of the type of scientific information that is certainly identified inside a great textbook, but that is definitely far significantly less abstract than what’s bubbling up from a popular biology book.
I consider that flaccid definition fits in to the biological sciences. It does not match properly into the social sciences or into well known culture, nevertheless it does appear to match properly into the physiology of an individual and into an evolutionary story.