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  1. Pruning the Tree of Life.Karen Neander - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (1):59-80.
    argue that natural selection does not explain the genotypic arid phenotypic properties of individuals. On this view, natural selection explains the adaptedness of individuals, not by explaining why the individuals that exist have the adaptations they do, but rather by explaining why the individuals that exist are the ones with those adaptations. This paper argues that this ‘Negative’ view of natural selection ignores the fact that natural selection is a cumulative selection process. So understood, it explains how the genetic sequences (...)
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  • Selection, Drift, and the “Forces” of Evolution.Christopher Stephens - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (4):550-570.
    Recently, several philosophers have challenged the view that evolutionary theory is usefully understood by way of an analogy with Newtonian mechanics. Instead, they argue that evolutionary theory is merely a statistical theory. According to this alternate approach, natural selection and random genetic drift are not even causes, much less forces. I argue that, properly understood, the Newtonian analogy is unproblematic and illuminating. I defend the view that selection and drift are causes in part by attending to a pair of important (...)
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  • The Trials of Life: Natural Selection and Random Drift.Denis M. Walsh, Andre Ariew & Tim Lewens - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (3):452-473.
    We distinguish dynamical and statistical interpretations of evolutionary theory. We argue that only the statistical interpretation preserves the presumed relation between natural selection and drift. On these grounds we claim that the dynamical conception of evolutionary theory as a theory of forces is mistaken. Selection and drift are not forces. Nor do selection and drift explanations appeal to the (sub-population-level) causes of population level change. Instead they explain by appeal to the statistical structure of populations. We briefly discuss the implications (...)
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  • Natural Selection and Distributive Explanation: A Reply to Neander.Elliott Sober - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (3):384-397.
    The thesis that natural selection explains the frequencies of traits in populations, but not why individual organisms have the traits tehy do, is here defended and elaborated. A general concept of ‘distributive explanation’ is discussed.
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  • Is Sex Really Necessary? And Other Questions for Lewens.Mohan Matthen - 2003 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (2):297-308.
    It has been claimed that certain forms of individual essentialism render the Theory of Natural Selection unable to explain why any given individual has the traits it does. Here, three reasons are offered why the Theory ought to ignore these forms of essentialism. First, the trait-distributions explained by population genetics supervene on individual-level causal links, and thus selection must have individual-level effects. Second, even if there are individuals that possess thick essences, they lie outside the domain of the Theory. Finally, (...)
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  • Explaining Complex Adaptations: A Reply to Sober's 'Reply to Neander'.Karen Neander - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (4):583-587.
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  • Probabilistic Causation.Christopher Hitchcock - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    “Probabilistic Causation” designates a group of theories that aim to characterize the relationship between cause and effect using the tools of probability theory. The central idea behind these theories is that causes change the probabilities of their effects. This article traces developments in probabilistic causation, including recent developments in causal modeling. A variety of issues within, and objections to, probabilistic theories of causation will also be discussed.
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  • Indeterminism and Natural Selection.R. A. Fisher - 1934 - Philosophy of Science 1 (1):99-117.
    The historical origin and the experimental basis of the concept of physical determinism indicate that this basis was removed with the acceptance of the kinetic theory of matter, while its difficulties are increased by the admission that human nature, in its entirety, is a product of natural causation. An indeterministic view of causation has the advantages (a) of unifying the concept of natural law in different spheres of human experience and (b) of a greater generality, which precludes the acceptance of (...)
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  • Discussion. Evolution, Wisconsin Style: Selection and the Explanation of Individual Traits.M. Matthen - 1999 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (1):143-150.
    natural selection may show why all (most, some) humans have an opposable thumb, but cannot show why any particular human has one, Karen Neander ([1995a], [1995b]) argues that this is false because natural selection is 'cumulative'. It is argued here, on grounds independent of its cumulativity, that selection can explain the characteristics of individual organisms subsequent to the event. The difference of opinion between Sober and his critics turns on an ontological dispute about how organisms are identified and individuated. The (...)
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  • Natural Selection Explanation and Origin Essentialism.Joel Pust - 2001 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (2):201-220.
    Does natural selection explain why individual organisms have the traits that they do? According to "the Negative View," natural selection does not explain why any individual organism has the traits that it does. According to "the Positive View," natural selection at least sometimes does explain why an individual organism has the traits that it does. In this paper, I argue that recent arguments for the Positive View fail in virtue of running afoul of the doctrine of origin essentialism and I (...)
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  • Origins Are Not Essences in Evolutionary Systematics.Mohan Matthen - 2002 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):167 - 181.
    Sound like a philosopher’s controversy? I think so. In ‘Evolution,’ I argued that Anti-Individualism was committed to a ‘highly metaphysical’ proposition at odds with the methodology of population genetics. This infelicity gave me reason for rejecting it. In his recent article, Pust takes issue with Neander and me. Until Pust wrote, Sober felt some small pressure from Individualism, and had shifted, albeit microscopically, toward it—he thought that on a very broad conception of causation, there might be some reason to think (...)
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  • Debating Darwin.Francisco J. Ayala - 2000 - Biology and Philosophy 15 (4):559-573.
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  • Teleological Explanations in Evolutionary Biology.Francisco J. Ayala - 1970 - Philosophy of Science 37 (1):1-15.
    The ultimate source of explanation in biology is the principle of natural selection. Natural selection means differential reproduction of genes and gene combinations. It is a mechanistic process which accounts for the existence in living organisms of end-directed structures and processes. It is argued that teleological explanations in biology are not only acceptable but indeed indispensable. There are at least three categories of biological phenomena where teleological explanations are appropriate.
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  • The Power of Natural Selection.Fiona Macpherson - 2002 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 9 (8):30-35.
    Some naturalistic theories of consciousness give an essential role to teleology.1 This teleology is said to arise due to natural selection. Thus it is claimed that only certain states, namely, those that have been selected for by evolutionary pro- cesses because they contribute to (or once contributed to) an organism’s fitness, are conscious states. These theories look as if they are assigning a creative role to natural selection. If a state is conscious only if it has been selected for, then (...)
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  • Natural Selection as a Population-Level Causal Process.Roberta L. Millstein - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (4):627-653.
    Recent discussions in the philosophy of biology have brought into question some fundamental assumptions regarding evolutionary processes, natural selection in particular. Some authors argue that natural selection is nothing but a population-level, statistical consequence of lower-level events (Matthen and Ariew [2002]; Walsh et al. [2002]). On this view, natural selection itself does not involve forces. Other authors reject this purely statistical, population-level account for an individual-level, causal account of natural selection (Bouchard and Rosenberg [2004]). I argue that each of these (...)
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  • A Generalized Probabilistic Theory of Causal Relevance.Christopher Read Hitchcock - 1993 - Synthese 97 (3):335 - 364.
    I advance a new theory of causal relevance, according to which causal claims convey information about conditional probability functions. This theory is motivated by the problem of disjunctive factors, which haunts existing probabilistic theories of causation. After some introductory remarks, I present in Section 3 a sketch of Eells's (1991) probabilistic theory of causation, which provides the framework for much of the discussion. Section 4 explains how the problem of disjunctive factors arises within this framework. After rejecting three proposed solutions, (...)
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  • What is Natural Selection?Björn Brunnander - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (2):231-246.
    ‘Natural selection’ is, it seems, an ambiguous term. It is sometimes held to denote a consequence of variation, heredity, and environment, while at other times as denoting a force that creates adaptations. I argue that the latter, the force interpretation, is a redundant notion of natural selection. I will point to difficulties in making sense of this linguistic practise, and argue that it is frequently at odds with standard interpretations of evolutionary theory. I provide examples to show this; one example (...)
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  • Evolutionary Explanation and the Hard Problem of Consciousness.Steven Horst - 1999 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (1):39-48.
    Chalmers and others have argued that physicalist microexplanation is incapable of solving the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness. This article examines whether evolutionary accounts of the mind, such as those developed by Millikan, Dretske and Flanagan, can add anything to make up for the possible short falls of more reductionist accounts. I argue that they cannot, because evolutionary accounts explain by appeal to a selectional history that only comes into the picture if consciousness can first arise due to spontaneous mutation in (...)
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  • Epiphenomenalism - the Do's and the Don 'Ts'.Lawrence A. Shapiro & Elliott Sober - 2007 - In G. Wolters & Peter K. Machamer (eds.), Studies in Causality: Historical and Contemporary. University of Pittsburgh Press.
    When philosophers defend epiphenomenalist doctrines, they often do so by way of a priori arguments. Here we suggest an empirical approach that is modeled on August Weismann.
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  • Indication and Adaptation.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 1992 - Synthese 92 (2):283-312.
    This paper examines the relationship between a family of concepts involving reliable correlation, and a family of concepts involving adaptation and biological function, as these concepts are used in the naturalistic semantic theory of Dretske's "Explaining Behavior." I argue that Dretske's attempt to marry correlation and function to produce representation fails, though aspects of his failure point the way forward to a better theory.
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  • Manipulation and the Causes of Evolution.Kenneth Reisman & Patrick Forber - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1113-1123.
    Evolutionary processes such as natural selection and random drift are commonly regarded as causes of population-level change. We respond to a recent challenge that drift and selection are best understood as statistical trends, not causes. Our reply appeals to manipulation as a strategy for uncovering causal relationships: if you can systematically manipulate variable A to bring about a change in variable B, then A is a cause of B. We argue that selection and drift can be systematically manipulated to produce (...)
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  • Can Cumulative Selection Explain Adaptation?Bence Nanay - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1099-1112.
    Two strong arguments have been given in favor of the claim that no selection process can play a role in explaining adaptations. According to the first argument, selection is a negative force; it may explain why the eliminated individuals are eliminated, but it does not explain why the ones that survived (or their offspring) have the traits they have. The second argument points out that the explanandum and the explanans are phenomena at different levels: selection is a population-level phenomenon, whereas (...)
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  • On the Nature of the Theory of Evolution.Gerhard D. Wassermann - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (3):416-437.
    This paper supplements an earlier one (Wassermann 1978b). Its views aim to reinforce those of Lewontin and other prominent evolutionists, but differ significantly from the opinions of some philosophers of science, notably Popper (1957) and Olding (1978). A basic distinction is made between 'laws' and 'theories of mechanisms'. The 'Theory of Evolution' is not characterized by laws, but is viewed here as a hypertheory which explains classifiable evolutionary phenomena in terms of subordinate classifiable theories of 'evolution-specific mechanisms' (ESMs), each of (...)
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  • Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics and Different Axioms of Evolution.Daniel R. Brooks & Richard T. O'Grady - 1986 - Acta Biotheoretica 35 (1-2):77-106.
    Proponents of two axioms of biological evolutionary theory have attempted to find justification by reference to nonequilibrium thermodynamics. One states that biological systems and their evolutionary diversification are physically improbable states and transitions, resulting from a selective process; the other asserts that there is an historically constrained inherent directionality in evolutionary dynamics, independent of natural selection, which exerts a self-organizing influence. The first, the Axiom of Improbability, is shown to be nonhistorical and thus, for a theory of change through time, (...)
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  • Seismograph Readings for Explaining Behavior.Ruth Garrett Millikan - 1990 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (4):807-812.
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  • Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
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  • Selection and Causation.Mohan Matthen & André Ariew - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (2):201-224.
    We have argued elsewhere that: (A) Natural selection is not a cause of evolution. (B) A resolution-of-forces (or vector addition) model does not provide us with a proper understanding of how natural selection combines with other evolutionary influences. These propositions have come in for criticism recently, and here we clarify and defend them. We do so within the broad framework of our own “hierarchical realization model” of how evolutionary influences combine.
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  • Evaluation of Statistical Hypotheses Using Information Transmitted.James G. Greeno - 1970 - Philosophy of Science 37 (2):279-294.
    The main argument of this paper is that an evaluation of the overall explanatory power of a theory is less problematic and more relevant as an assessment of the state of knowledge than evaluation of statistical explanations of single occurrences in terms of likelihoods that are assigned to explananda.
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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 41 (4):420-421.
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  • Evolution Despite Natural Selection? Emergence Theory and the Ever Elusive Link Between Adaptation and Adaptability.Alexander V. Badyaev - 2008 - Acta Biotheoretica 56 (3):249-255.
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  • Sex and Selection: A Reply to Matthen.Tim Lewens - 2001 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (3):589-598.
    argues that when reproduction is sexual, natural selection can explain why individual organisms possess the traits they do. In stating his argument Matthen makes use of a conception of individual organisms as receptacles for collections of genes—a conception that cannot do the work Matthen requires of it. Either these receptacles are abstract objects, such as bare possibilities for organisms, or they are concrete. The first reading is too weak, since it allows selection to explain individual traits in both sexual and (...)
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  • The Scope of Selection: Sober and Neander on What Natural Selection Explains.D. M. Walsh - 1998 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (2):250 – 264.
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  • What Can Natural Selection Explain?Ulrich E. Stegmann - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 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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  • Two Ways of Thinking About Fitness and Natural Selection.Mohan Matthen & André Ariew - 2002 - Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):55-83.
    How do fitness and natural selection relate to other evolutionary factors like architectural constraint, mode of reproduction, and drift? In one way of thinking, drawn from Newtonian dynamics, fitness is one force driving evolutionary change and added to other factors. In another, drawn from statistical thermodynamics, it is a statistical trend that manifests itself in natural selection histories. It is argued that the first model is incoherent, the second appropriate; a hierarchical realization model is proposed as a basis for a (...)
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  • The Return of the Replicator: What is Philosophically Significant in a General Account of Replication and Selection? [REVIEW]Bence Nanay - 2002 - Biology and Philosophy 17 (1):109-121.
    The aim of this paper is to outline a typologyof selection processes, and show that differentsub-categories have different explanatorypower. The basis of this typology of selectionprocesses is argued to be the difference ofreplication processes involved in them. Inorder to show this, I argue that: 1.Replication is necessary for selection and 2.Different types of replication lead todifferent types of selection. Finally, it isargued that this typology is philosophicallysignificant, since it contrasts cases ofselection (on the basis of the replicationprocesses involved in them) (...)
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  • Natural Selection and the Traits of Individual Organisms.Joel Pust - 2004 - Biology and Philosophy 19 (5):765-779.
    I have recently argued that origin essentialism regarding individual organisms entails that natural selection does not explain why individual organisms have the traits that they do. This paper defends this and related theses against Mohan Matthen's recent objections.
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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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  • Goal-Directed Processes in Biology.Ernest Nagel - 1977 - Journal of Philosophy 74 (5):261-279.
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  • Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus.Philippe Huneman - unknown
    This chapter surveys the philosophical problems raised by the two Darwinian claims of the existence of a Tree of a life, and the explanatory power of natural selection. It explores the specificity of explanations by natural selection, emphasizing the high context-dependency of any process of selection. Some consequences are drawn about the difficulty of those explanations to fit a nomological model of explanation, and the irreducibility of their historic-narrative dimension. The paper introduces to the debates about units of selection, stating (...)
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  • Statistical Explanation Vs. Statistical Inference.Richard Jeffrey - 1969 - In Nicholas Rescher (ed.), Essays in Honor of Carl G. Hempel. Reidel. pp. 104--113.
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  • Causal Laws and Effective Strategies.Nancy Cartwright - 1979 - Noûs 13 (4):419-437.
    La autora presenta algunas criticas generales al proyecto de reducir las leyes causales a probabilidades. Además, muestra que las leyes causales son imprescindibles para poder diferenciar las strategias efectivas de las que no lo son y da un criterio para considerar cuando podemos deducir causalidad a través de datos estadísticos.
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  • What Does Natural Selection Explain? Correction to Sober.Karen Neander - 1988 - Philosophy of Science 55 (3):422-426.
    In this paper I argue against Sober's claim that natural selection does not explain the traits of individuals. Sober argues that natural selection only explains the distribution of traits in a population. My point is that the explanation of an individual's traits involves us in a description of the individual's ancestry, and in an explanation of the distribution of traits in that ancestral population. Thus Sober is wrong, natural selection is part of the explanation of the traits of individuals.
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  • Statistical Explanation.Wesley C. Salmon - 1970 - In Robert Colodny (ed.), The Nature and Function of Scientific Theories. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 173--231.
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  • Natural Selection Doesn't Work That Way: Jerry Fodor Vs. Evolutionary Psychology on Gradualism and Saltationism.Andre Ariew - 2003 - Mind and Language 18 (5):478-483.
    In Chapter Five of The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way, Jerry Fodor argues that since it is likely that human minds evolved quickly as saltations rather than gradually as the product of an accumulation of small mutations, evolutionary psychologists are wrong to think that human minds are adaptations. I argue that Fodor’s requirement that adaptationism entails gradualism is wrongheaded. So, while evolutionary psychologists may be wrong to endorse gradualism—and I argue that they are wrong—it does not follow that they are (...)
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  • Adaptation and Indication.P. Godfrey-Smith - 1992 - Synthese 92:283-312.
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  • Chasing Shadows: Natural Selection and Adaptation.D. M. Walsh - 2000 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 31 (1):135-53.
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  • Natural Theology.William Paley - 2007 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Late Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary. Blackwell.
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  • Teleology Revisited.Ernest Nagel - 1977 - Journal of Philosophy 74.
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  • Evolution.Ernst Mayr - 1978 - Scientific American 239:46-55.
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  • On the Explanatory Roles of Natural Selection.Patrick Forber - 2005 - Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):329-342.
    Can selection explain why individuals have the traits they do? This question has generated significant controversy. I will argue that the debate encompasses two separable aspects, to detrimental effect: (1) the role of selection in explaining the origin and evolution of biological traits and (2) the implications this may have for explaining why individuals have the traits they do. (1) can be settled on the basis of evolutionary theory while (2) requires additional, extra-scientific assumptions. By making a distinction between traits (...)
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