Darwin’s Unkindly Variable: Fitness and the Tautology Problem

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
Few problems in the philosophy of evolutionary biology are more widely disseminated and discussed than the charge of Darwinian evolution being a tautology. The history is long and complex, and the issues are many, and despite the problem routinely being dismissed as an introductory-level issue, based on misunderstandings of evolution, it seems that few agree on what exactly these misunderstandings consist of. In this paper, I will try to comprehensively review the history and the issues. Then, I will try to present the following “solution”, or, one might say, “dissolution”, of the problem, and consider the wider implications of formal, or schematic, explanations in science: yes, the principle of natural selection is a tautology, and so what? It is a promissory note for actual, physical, explanations in particular cases, and is none the worse for that. This is not a new argument, of course, but it does point up the importance of formal schematic models in science.
Categories
(categorize this paper)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
WILDUV
Upload history
Archival date: 2015-11-21
View other versions
Added to PP index
2010-04-18

Total views
1,273 ( #3,577 of 65,515 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
25 ( #30,838 of 65,515 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.