David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Acta Biotheoretica 32 (3) (1983)
The impact of philosophy of science on biology is slight. Evolutionary biology, however, is nowadays an exception. The status of the neo-Darwinian (synthetic) theory of evolution is seriously challenged from a methodological perspective. However, the methodology used in the relevant discussions is plainly defective. A correct application of methodology to evolutionary theory leads to the following conclusions. (a) The theory of natural selection (the core of neo-Darwinism) is unfalsifiable in a strict sense of the term. This, however, does not militate against the theory, because no scientific theory whatever is testable in this way. Under a more liberal testability criterion, the theory is surely testable. None the less, certain (not all) research programs may tend to make the theory untestable in practice. (b) It has often been argued that the tautologous character of the principle of natural selection, allegedly the focus of evolutionary theory, makes the theory untestable through circular reasoning. Actually, the principle is only a tautology if fitness is wrongly defined in terms of actual survival. But even then circular reasoning need not ensue. (c) Evolutionary principles do not permit, without additional information, the derivation of statements about evolutionary events concerning particular species or populations. If this were a reason to criticize the theory (as has been argued in the literature), any other scientific theory would be inadequate by the same token.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Wim J. Steen (1986). Methodological Problems in Evolutionary Biology VI. The Force of Evolutionary Epistemology. Acta Biotheoretica 35 (3).
Massimo Pigliucci (2009). An Extended Synthesis for Evolutionary Biology. Annals of the New York Academy of Science 1168:218-228.
David B. Resnik (1988). Survival of the Fittest: Law of Evolution or Law of Probability? [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 3 (3):349-362.
Robert N. Brandon (1980). A Structural Description of Evolutionary Theory. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:427 - 439.
David L. Hull (1999). The Use and Abuse of Sir Karl Popper. Biology and Philosophy 14 (4):481-504.
Elliott Sober (1984/1993). The Nature of Selection: Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus. University of Chicago Press.
Wim J. van der Steen (1999). Methodological Problems in Evolutionary Biology. XII. Against Evolutionary Ethics. Acta Biotheoretica 47 (1):41-57.
William S. Cooper (2001). The Evolution of Reason: Logic as a Branch of Biology. Cambridge University Press.
Michael Ruse (1977). Karl Popper's Philosophy of Biology. Philosophy of Science 44 (4):638-661.
Wim J. Steen (1986). Methodological Problems in Evolutionary Biology V. The Import of Supervenience. Acta Biotheoretica 35 (3).
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads10 ( #215,417 of 1,699,425 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #206,271 of 1,699,425 )
How can I increase my downloads?