The Negative View of Natural Selection

Abstract
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 Michael Strevens lends support to the view that natural selection can be relevant to the explanation of individual traits.
Keywords Evolution  Natural Selection  Adaptation  Causal explanation  Contrastive explanation
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 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: 11,808
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
Robert C. Cummins (1975). Functional Analysis. Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Fred I. Dretske (1972). Contrastive Statements. Philosophical Review 81 (4):411-437.
Tim Lewens (2001). Sex and Selection: A Reply to Matthen. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (3):589-598.

View all 22 references

Citations of this work BETA
Brian McLoone (2013). Selection Explanations of Token Traits. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):342-346.
Similar books and articles
Elliott Sober (1995). Natural Selection and Distributive Explanation: A Reply to Neander. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (3):384-397.
Roberta L. Millstein (2006). Natural Selection as a Population-Level Causal Process. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (4):627-653.
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2012-04-23

Total downloads

57 ( #29,203 of 1,099,788 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

11 ( #21,120 of 1,099,788 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


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