Pluralism, antirealism, and the units of selection

Acta Biotheoretica 45 (2):117-126 (1997)
In an important article, Kim Sterelny and Philip Kitcher (1988) challenge the common assumption that for any biological phenomenon requiring a selectionist explanation, it is possible to identify a uniquely correct account of the relevant selection process. They argue that selection events can be modeled in any of a number of different, equally correct ways. They call their view 'Pluralism,' and explicitly connect it with various antirealist positions in the philosophy of science. I critically evaluate Sterelny and Kitcher's Pluralism along with its attendant antirealist theses. In particular, I argue that there are serious problems with their pluralistic antirealism regarding units of selection. By correctly diagnosing these problems a more adequate position can be constructed. I defend such a position, which I designate Inclusive Hierarchical Monism, and show how it captures the important virtues of Sterelny and Kitcher's approach while avoiding its problems.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Biology   Evolutionary Biology
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DOI 10.1023/A:1000377821347
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Ayelet Shavit (2004). Shifting Values Partly Explain the Debate Over Group Selection. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 35 (4):697-720.

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