The significance of levels of organization for scientific research: A heuristic approach

Daniel S. Brooks, Markus I. Eronen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The concept of 'levels of organization' has come under fire recently as being useless for scientific and philosophical purposes. In this paper, we show that 'levels' is actually a remarkably resilient and constructive conceptual tool that can be, and in fact is, used for a variety of purposes. To this effect, we articulate an account of the importance of the levels concept seen in light of its status as a major organizing concept of biology. We argue that the usefulness of 'levels' is best seen in the heuristic contributions the concept makes to treating and structuring scientific problems. We illustrate this with two examples from biological research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-41
Number of pages8
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Biology/organization & administration
  • Heuristics
  • Philosophy
  • Research/organization & administration

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