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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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  • Evolution and the Missing Link (in Debunking Arguments).Uri D. Leibowitz & Neil Sinclair - 2017 - In Michael Ruse & Robert J. Richards (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Evolutionary Ethics. Cambridge University Press.
    What are the consequences, for human moral practice, of an evolutionary understanding of that practice? By ‘moral practice’ we mean the way in which human beings think, talk and debate in moral terms. We suggest that the proper upshot of such considerations is moderate support for anti-realism in ethics.
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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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  • Against Inferential Reliabilism: Making Origins Matter More.Peter J. Graham - 2014 - Philosophical Analysis: The Journal of the Korean Society for Analytic Philosophy 15:87-122.
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  • Natural Selection and Multi-Level Causation.Maximiliano Martínez & Andrés Moya - 2011 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 3 (20130604).
    In this paper, using a multilevel approach, we defend the positive role of natural selection in the generation of organismal form. Despite the currently widespread opinion that natural selection only plays a negative role in the evolution of form, we argue, in contrast, that the Darwinian factor is a crucial (but not exclusive) factor in morphological organization. Analyzing some classic arguments, we propose incorporating the notion of ‘downward causation’ into the concept of ‘natural selection.’ In our opinion, this kind of (...)
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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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  • From Toys to Games: Overcoming the View of Natural Selection as a Filter.Víctor J. Luque - 2016 - Kairos 17 (1):1-24.
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  • What Did Popper Learn From Lakatos?Bence Nanay - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (6):1202-1215.
    The canonical version of the history of twentieth century philosophy of science tells us that Lakatos was Popper’s disciple, but it is rarely mentioned that Popper would have learned anything from Lakatos. The aim of this paper is to examine Lakatos’ influence on Popper’s philosophical system and to argue that Lakatos did have an important, yet somewhat unexpected, impact on Popper’s thinking: he influenced Popper’s evolutionary model for ‘progress’ in science. And Lakatos’ influence sheds new light on why and how (...)
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  • Optimality Modelling in the Real World.Jean-Sébastien Bolduc & Frank Cézilly - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (6):851-869.
    In a recent paper, Potochnik (Biol Philos 24(2):183–197, 2009) analyses some uses of optimality modelling in light of the anti-adaptationism criticism. She distinguishes two broad classes of such uses (weak and strong) on the basis of assumptions held by biologists about the role and the importance of natural selection. This is an interesting proposal that could help in the epistemological characterisation of some biological practices. However, Potochnik’s distinction also rests on the assumption that all optimality modelling represent the selection dynamic (...)
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  • Symmetry Between the Intentionality of Minds and Machines? The Biological Plausibility of Dennett’s Account.Bence Nanay - 2006 - Minds and Machines 16 (1):57-71.
    One of the most influential arguments against the claim that computers can think is that while our intentionality is intrinsic, that of computers is derived: it is parasitic on the intentionality of the programmer who designed the computer-program. Daniel Dennett chose a surprising strategy for arguing against this asymmetry: instead of denying that the intentionality of computers is derived, he endeavours to argue that human intentionality is derived too. I intend to examine that biological plausibility of Dennett’s suggestion and show (...)
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  • Population Thinking as Trope Nominalism.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Synthese 177 (1):91 - 109.
    The concept of population thinking was introduced by Ernst Mayr as the right way of thinking about the biological domain, but it is difficult to find an interpretation of this notion that is both unproblematic and does the theoretical work it was intended to do. I argue that, properly conceived, Mayr’s population thinking is a version of trope nominalism: the view that biological property-types do not exist or at least they play no explanatory role. Further, although population thinking has been (...)
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  • Natural Selection and the Limited Nature of Environmental Resources.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (4):418-419.
    In this paper, I am clarifying and defending my argument in favor of the claim that cumulative selection can explain adaptation provided that the environmental resources are limited. Further, elaborate on what this limitation of environmental resources means and why it is relevant for the explanatory power of natural selection.
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  • Replication Without Replicators.Bence Nanay - 2011 - Synthese 179 (3):455-477.
    According to a once influential view of selection, it consists of repeated cycles of replication and interaction. It has been argued that this view is wrong: replication is not necessary for evolution by natural selection. I analyze the nine most influential arguments for this claim and defend the replication–interaction conception of selection against these objections. In order to do so, however, the replication–interaction conception of selection needs to be modified significantly. My proposal is that replication is not the copying of (...)
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  • George Kubler and the Biological Metaphor of Art.Bence Nanay - 2018 - British Journal of Aesthetics 58 (4):423-434.
    George Kubler was one of the most important art historians of the twentieth century who is especially relevant today mainly for shifting the emphasis from high art to what is now known as ‘visual culture’ and for being the first genuinely global art historian. But what he has been most widely known for is the rejection of the biological metaphor of art—the general idea that artistic styles and movements grow, flower and then wither away. I argue that Kubler did not (...)
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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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  • What Can Natural Selection Explain?Ulrich E. Stegmann - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (1):61-66.
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  • What Can Natural Selection Explain?Ulrich E. Stegmann - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (1):61-66.
    One approach to assess the explanatory power of natural selection is to ask what type of facts it can explain. The standard list of explananda includes facts like trait frequencies or the survival of particular organisms. Here, I argue that this list is incomplete: natural selection can also explain a specific kind of individual-level fact that involves traits. The ability of selection to explain this sort of fact vindicates the explanatory commitments of empirical studies on microevolution. Trait facts must be (...)
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  • Natural Selection and the Limitations of Environmental Resources.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (4):418-419.
    In this paper, I am clarifying and defending my argument in favor of the claim that cumulative selection can explain adaptation provided that the environmental resources are limited. Further, elaborate on what this limitation of environmental resources means and why it is relevant for the explanatory power of natural selection.
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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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  • The Economic Origins of Ultrasociality.John Gowdy & Lisi Krall - 2016 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 39:1-63.
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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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