Methodological problems in evolutionary biology I. testability and tautologies

Acta Biotheoretica 32 (3) (1983)
Abstract
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)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,826
External links
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
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

7 ( #192,777 of 1,100,144 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

0

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.