David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 18 (4):493-512 (2003)
This contribution to the adaptationism debate elaborates the nature of constraints and their importance in evolutionary explanation and argues that the adaptationism debate should be limited to the issue of how to privilege causes in evolutionary explanation. I argue that adaptationist explanations are deeply conceptually dependent on developmental constraints, and explanations that appeal to constraints are dependant on the results of natural selection. I suggest these explanations should be integrated into the framework of historical causal explanation. Each strategy explicitly appeals to some aspect of the evolutionary process, while implicitly appealing to others. Thus, adaptationists and anti-adaptationists can offer complementary causal explanations of the same explanandum. This eliminates much of the adaptationism debate and explains why its adversaries regularly agree with each other more than they would like. The adaptationism issue that remains is a species of the general issue of how to privilege causes in explanation. I show how a proposed solution to this general problem might be brought to bear on evolutionary explanations, and investigate some difficulties that might arise due to the nature of the evolutionary process.
|Keywords||Adaptationism Causal explanation Constraint Historical turn Privileging causes|
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Citations of this work BETA
Adrian Mitchell Currie (2014). Venomous Dinosaurs and Rear-Fanged Snakes: Homology and Homoplasy Characterized. [REVIEW] Erkenntnis 79 (3):701-727.
Elisabeth A. Lloyd (2015). Adaptationism and the Logic of Research Questions: How to Think Clearly About Evolutionary Causes. Biological Theory:DOI: 10.1007/s13752-015-0214-2.
Timothy Shanahan (2008). Why Don't Zebras Have Machine Guns Adaptation, Selection, and Constraints in Evolutionary Theory. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 39 (1):135-146.
Adrian Mitchell Currie (2012). Convergence, Contingency & Morphospace. Biology and Philosophy 27 (4):583-593.
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