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Fitness made physical: The supervenience of biological concepts revisited

Philosophy of Science 63 (3):411-431 (1996)
The supervenience and multiple realizability of biological properties have been invoked to support a disunified picture of the biological sciences. I argue that supervenience does not capture the relation between fitness and an organism's physical properties. The actual relation is one of causal dependence and is, therefore, amenable to causal explanation. A case from optimality theory is presented and interpreted as a microreductive explanation of fitness difference. Such microreductions can have considerable scope. Implications are discussed for reductive physicalism in evolutionary biology and for the unity of science
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