Darwin's causal pluralism

Biology and Philosophy 11 (1):1-20 (1996)
Historians of Biology have divided nineteenth century naturalists into two basic camps, Functionalists and Structuralists. This division is supposed to demarcate the alternative causal presuppositions working beneath research programs. If one is functionally oriented, then organic form will be contingent upon the causal powers of the environment. If structurally oriented, one argues for nonfunctional mechanisms (e.g., internal laws of growth) to account for organic form.Traditionally, Darwin has been grouped with the functionalists because natural selection (an adaptational mechanism) plays the prominent role in shaping organic form. In this paper, I sketch the dichotomy of functionalism versus structuralism and then argue that Darwin cannot be characterized adequately with this dichotomy. I argue that Darwin can incorporate both causal stories because he makes two important modifications to the traditional metaphysical presuppositions. I then offer some brief reflections on the import of Darwin's causal pluralism for the Philosophy of Science.
Keywords Darwin  functionalism  structuralism  causal pluralism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF00127469
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
David Hume (2007/2006). Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Philosophical Review. Blackwell Pub. Ltd. 338-339.
Ernst Mayr (1963). Animal Species and Evolution. Belknap of Harvard University Press.
Nicholas Rupke (1993). Richard Owen's Vertebrate Archetype. Isis: A Journal of the History of Science 84:231-251.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

18 ( #154,929 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #264,053 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.