The changeful fate of a groundbreaking insight: the Darwinian fitness principle caught in different webs of belief
Yearbook for European Culture of Science 2:107-124 (2006)
|Abstract||Darwin’s explanation of biological speciation in terms of variation and natural selection has revolutionised biological thought. However, while his principle of natural selection, the fitness principle, has shaped biology until the present, its interpretation changed more than once during the almost 150 years of its history. The most striking change of the status of the principle is that, in the middle of the 20th century, it transmutated from an often disputed, groundbreaking insight into a tautology. Moreover, not only the interpretation of the fitness principle, but the whole body of biological knowledge was subjected to significant modifications. In this paper, I relate modifications of the fitness principle to those of the respective body of biological knowledge. This body of knowledge is conceived as a Quinean web of belief. After an exposition of Darwin’s conception of the principle, which equated fitness with adaptedness to the environment, several of its changes are analysed with respect to different webs of biological knowledge. It is concluded that the different interpretations and the reshaping of the fitness principle are rational responses to the modified systems of background knowledge, which saved the coherence of the web of biological knowledge in each single case.|
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
|External links||This entry has no external links. Add one.|
|Through your library||Configure|
Similar books and articles
Jun Otsuka, Trin Turner, Colin Allen & Elisabeth Lloyd (2011). Why the Causal View of Fitness Survives. Philosophy of Science 78 (2):209-224.
André Ariew & R. C. Lewontin (2004). The Confusions of Fitness. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):347-363.
Alexander Rosenberg, Fitness. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Alexander Rosenberg (1983). Fitness. Journal of Philosophy 80 (8):457-473.
Marshall Abrams (2009). Fitness “Kinematics”: Biological Function, Altruism, and Organism–Environment Development. Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):487-504.
Alex Rosenberg & Frederic Bouchard (2005). Matthen and Ariew's Obituary for Fitness: Reports of its Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):343-353.
C. Kenneth Waters (1986). Natural Selection Without Survival of the Fittest. Biology and Philosophy 1 (2):207-225.
Robert N. Brandon (1980). A Structural Description of Evolutionary Theory. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:427 - 439.
Abner Shimony (1989). The Non-Existence of a Principle of Natural Selection. Biology and Philosophy 4 (3):255-273.
Added to index2009-01-31
Total downloads77 ( #12,788 of 722,867 )
Recent downloads (6 months)27 ( #4,631 of 722,867 )
How can I increase my downloads?