Darwin's concept of final cause: Neither new nor trivial [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 17 (3):323-340 (2002)
Darwin'suse of final cause accords with the Aristotelian idea of finalcauses as explanatory types – as opposed to mechanical causes, which arealways particulars. In Wright's consequence etiology, anadaptation is explained by particular events, namely, its past consequences;hence, that etiology is mechanistic at bottom. This justifies Ghiselin'scharge that such versions of teleology trivialize the subject, But a purelymechanistic explanation of an adaptation allows it to appear coincidental.Patterns of outcome, whether biological or thermodynamic, cannot be explainedbytracing causal chains, even were that possible. They are explicanda of aspecialkind. The form of their explanation, in statistical mechanics or by naturalselection, is not captured by statistical variants of the covering-law model orrelated models of explanation. In them as in classical teleology, types ofoutcome are cited to explain why there are outcomes of those types. But onlywhen types are explanatory by being selected for, as inexplanations of animal and human behavior as well as in Darwin's theory ofnatural selection, but not in statistical mechanics, is the explanationteleological. Darwin's theory is nontrivially teleological.
|Keywords||Aristotle Darwin Explanation Final cause Natural selection Statistical mechanics Teleology|
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Citations of this work BETA
Andrew Robinson & Christopher Southgate (2010). A General Definition of Interpretation and its Application to Origin of Life Research. Biology and Philosophy 25 (2):163-181.
Christopher Southgate & Andrew Robinson (2010). Interpretation and the Origin of Life. Zygon 45 (2):345-360.
Michael Chase (2011). Teleology and Final Causation in Aristotle and in Contemporary Science. Dialogue 50 (03):511-536.
Jesper Hoffmeyer (2010). Relations: The True Substrate for Evolution. Semiotica 2010 (178):81-103.
Stephen Pratten (2009). Critical Realism and Causality: Tracing the Aristotelian Legacy. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 39 (2):189-218.
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