Pluralism, antirealism, and the units of selection

Acta Biotheoretica 45 (2) (1997)
Abstract
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.
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