Universal Darwinism: Its Scope and Limits

Many things evolve: species, languages, sports, tools, biological niches, and theories. But are these real instances of natural selection? Current assessments of the proper scope of Darwinian theory focus on the broad similarity of cultural or non-organic processes to familiar central instances of natural selection. That similarity is analysed in terms of abstract functional descriptions of evolving entities (e.g. replicators, interactors, developmental systems etc). These strategies have produced a proliferation of competing evolutionary analyses. I argue that such reasoning ought not to be employed in arbitrating debates about whether particular phenomena count as instances of natural selection. My argument is based on hierarchical functional descriptions of natural selection. I suggest that natural selection ought not to be thought of as a single process but rather as a series of processes which can be analysed in terms of a hierarchy of functional descriptions (in much the same way as many people think of cognition). This, in turn, casts doubt on the idea that it is possible in principle to settle debates about whether particular phenomena count as instances of natural selection.
Keywords Universal Darwinism  scope  inheritance
Categories (categorize this paper)
 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 Translate to english
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,280
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Jerry Fodor (2008). Against Darwinism. Mind and Language 23 (1):1–24.
James Lennox (2008). Darwinism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

19 ( #242,907 of 1,932,462 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #456,114 of 1,932,462 )

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.