'Fitness' and 'altruism': Traps for the unwary, bystander and biologist alike [Book Review]

Biology and Philosophy 8 (1):61-83 (1993)
At one level, this paper is a lament and a warning. I lament biologists borrowing well-known terms and then drastically and awkwardly changing their meanings, and I warn about the mischief this does. Biology''s public image is at stake, as is its general usefulness. At another level, I attempt to clarify the misnamed concepts, beyond what has been achieved in recent philosophical writings. This helps to account for the mischief, and to see how it might be avoidable. But the most important thing about the paper is that, at a third level, it is an argument against physicalism and materialism, especially those variants which deny the autonomy of organisms and the existence of intrinsic goods. Interpreting biology from the point of view of those denials leads to unsatisfactory and even bizarre results.
Keywords Fitness  altruism  selfishness  propensities  causation  genetic determinism  intrinsic values
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DOI 10.1007/BF00868506
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