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  1. The Negative View of Natural Selection.Jonathan Birch - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (2):569-573.
    An influential argument due to Elliott Sober, subsequently strengthened by Denis Walsh and Joel Pust, moves from plausible premises to the bold conclusion that natural selection cannot explain the traits of individual organisms. If the argument were sound, the explanatory scope of selection would depend, surprisingly, on metaphysical considerations concerning origin essentialism. I show that the Sober-Walsh-Pust argument rests on a flawed counterfactual criterion for explanatory relevance. I further show that a more defensible criterion for explanatory relevance recently proposed by (...)
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  • Do Evolutionary Debunking Arguments Rest on a Mistake About Evolutionary Explanations?Andreas L. Mogensen - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (7):1799-1817.
    Many moral philosophers accept the Debunking Thesis, according to which facts about natural selection provide debunking explanations for certain of our moral beliefs. I argue that philosophers who accept the Debunking Thesis beg important questions in the philosophy of biology. They assume that past selection can explain why you or I hold certain of the moral beliefs we do. A position advanced by many prominent philosophers of biology implies that this assumption is false. According to the Negative View, natural selection (...)
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  • Probabilistic Causation and the Explanatory Role of Natural Selection.Pablo Razeto-Barry & Ramiro Frick - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (3):344-355.
    The explanatory role of natural selection is one of the long-term debates in evolutionary biology. Nevertheless, the consensus has been slippery because conceptual confusions and the absence of a unified, formal causal model that integrates different explanatory scopes of natural selection. In this study we attempt to examine two questions: (i) What can the theory of natural selection explain? and (ii) Is there a causal or explanatory model that integrates all natural selection explananda? For the first question, we argue that (...)
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  • There is No Asymmetry of Identity Assumptions in the Debate Over Selection and Individuals.Casey Helgeson - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (1):21-31.
    A long-running dispute concerns which adaptation-related explananda natural selection can be said to explain. At issue are explananda of the form: why a given individual organism has a given adaptation rather than that same individual having another trait. It is broadly agreed that one must be ready to back up a “no” answer with an appropriate theory of trans-world identity for individuals. I argue, against the conventional wisdom, that the same is true for a “yes” answer. My conclusion recasts the (...)
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  • What Selection Can and Cannot Explain: A Reply to Nanay’s Critique of Sober.Casey Helgeson - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (1):155-159.
    In The Nature of Selection, Elliott Sober argued that natural selection is in principle powerless to explain why any individual organism has the traits it does rather than the very same individual having different traits. In this note, I argue that in a recent and prominent critique of Sober’s position, Bence Nanay talks past that position rather than addressing it.
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  • Reply to Bence Nanay's 'Natural Selection and the Limited Nature of Environmental Resources'.Ulrich Stegmann - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (4):420-421.
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  • Reply to Bence Nanay’s ‘Natural Selection and the Limited Nature of Environmental Resources’.Ulrich Stegmann - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (4):420-421.
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  • Probabilistic Causation and the Explanatory Role of Natural Selection.Pablo Razeto-Barry & Ramiro Frick - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (3):344-355.
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  • The Negative View of Natural Selection.Jonathan Birch - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (2):569-573.
    An influential argument due to Elliott Sober, subsequently strengthened by Denis Walsh and Joel Pust, moves from plausible premises to the bold conclusion that natural selection cannot explain the traits of individual organisms. If the argument were sound, the explanatory scope of selection would depend, surprisingly, on metaphysical considerations concerning origin essentialism. I show that the Sober-Walsh-Pust argument rests on a flawed counterfactual criterion for explanatory relevance. I further show that a more defensible criterion for explanatory relevance recently proposed by (...)
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  • Selection Explanations of Token Traits.Brian McLoone - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):342-346.
    The “negative view” is the claim that natural selection cannot explain why a particular individual has one trait, rather than another. Here, I modify an example from Lewens to show that this claim is sometimes false. I then advance a variation on the negative view. It is the claim that selection at the organism level within a lineage cannot explain why a particular individual in that lineage has one allele, rather than another. This formulation better describes the explanatory role of (...)
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  • Selection Explanations of Token Traits.Brian McLoone - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):342-346.
    The “negative view” is the claim that natural selection cannot explain why a particular individual has one trait, rather than another. Here, I modify an example from Lewens (2001) to show that this claim is sometimes false. I then advance a variation on the negative view. It is the claim that selection at the organism level within a lineage cannot explain why a particular individual in that lineage has one allele, rather than another. This formulation better describes the explanatory role (...)
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