David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 15 (2):211-238 (2000)
We argue that broad, simplegeneralizations, not specifically linked tocontingencies, will rarely approach truth in ecologyand evolutionary biology. This is because mostinteresting phenomena have multiple, interactingcauses. Instead of looking for single universaltheories to explain the great diversity of naturalsystems, we suggest that it would be profitable todevelop general explanatory frameworks. A frameworkshould clearly specify focal levels. The process orpattern that we wish to study defines our level offocus. The set of potential and actual states at thefocal level interacts with conditions at thecontiguous lower and upper levels of organization,through sets of many-to-one and one-to-manyconnections. The number of initiating conditions andtheir permutations at the lower level define thepotential states at the focal level, whereas theactual state is constrained by the upper-levelboundary conditions. The most useful generalizationsare explanatory frameworks, which are road maps tosolutions, rather than solutions themselves. Suchframeworks outline what is understood about boundaryconditions and initiating conditions so that aninvestigator can pick and choose what is required toeffectively understand a specific event or situation. We discuss these relationships in terms of examplesinvolving sex ratio and mating behavior, competitivehierarchies, insect life-histories and the evolutionof sex.
|Keywords||bottom-up pluralism competitive hierarchies contingency explanation generalization life-history many-to-one mating behavior multiple causation nested hierarchy one-to-many scale sex sex ratio triadic system truth|
|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
Kevin N. Laland, John Odling-Smee, Marcus W. Feldman & Jeremy Kendal (2009). Conceptual Barriers to Progress Within Evolutionary Biology. Foundations of Science 14 (3):195-216.
Jonathan Jacobs (1986). Teleology and Reduction in Biology. Biology and Philosophy 1 (4):389-399.
Arthur L. Stinchcombe (1991). The Conditions of Fruitfulness of Theorizing About Mechanisms in Social Science. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 21 (3):367-388.
Roberta L. Millstein (2003). Interpretations of Probability in Evolutionary Theory. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1317-1328.
Deborah E. Shelton & Richard E. Michod (2010). Philosophical Foundations for the Hierarchy of Life. Biology and Philosophy 25 (3):391-403.
Harold Kincaid (1988). Supervenience and Explanation. Synthese 77 (November):251-81.
Masakado Kawata (1987). Units and Passages: A View for Evolutionary Biology and Ecology. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 2 (4):415-434.
Lindell Bromham (2011). Wandering Drunks and General Lawlessness in Biology: Does Diversity and Complexity Tend to Increase in Evolutionary Systems? Biology and Philosophy 26 (6):915-933.
Kim Sterelny (1996). Explanatory Pluralism in Evolutionary Biology. Biology and Philosophy 11 (2):193-214.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads7 ( #262,027 of 1,696,446 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #179,845 of 1,696,446 )
How can I increase my downloads?