this requirement for adaptations. Emergent characters are always potential adaptations. Not all selection processes produce adaptations, however. The key issue, in delineating a selection process, is the relationship between a character and fitness. The emergent character approach is more restrictive than alternative schemas that delineate selection..
I clarify the difference between pluralist and monist interpretations of levels of selection disputes. Lloyd has challenged my claim that a plurality of models correctly accounts for situations such as maintenance of the sickle-cell trait, and I revisit this example to show that competing theories don’t disagree about the existence of ‘high-level’ or ‘lowlevel’ causes; rather, they parse these causes differently. Applying Woodward’s theory of causation, I analyze Sober’s distinction between ‘selection of’ versus ‘selection for’. My analysis shows that this (...) distinction separates true causes from pseudocauses, but it also reveals that the distinction is irrelevant to the levels debate; it makes no sense to say true causes are at higher levels and not lower levels. The levels debate is not about separating real causes from pseudocauses; it’s about finding useful ways to parse and disentangle causes. (shrink)
Climate change assessments rely upon scenarios of socioeconomic developments to conceptualize alternative outcomes for global greenhouse gas emissions. These are used in conjunction with climate models to make projections of future climate. Specifically, the estimations of greenhouse gas emissions based on socioeconomic scenarios constrain climate models in their outcomes of temperatures, precipitation, etc. Traditionally, the fundamental logic of the socioeconomic scenarios—that is, the logic that makes them plausible—is developed and prioritized using methods that are very subjective. This introduces a fundamental (...) challenge for climate change assessment: The veracity of projections of future climate currently rests on subjective ground. We elaborate on these subjective aspects of scenarios in climate change research. We then consider an alternative method for developing scenarios, a systems dynamics approach called ‘Cross-Impact Balance’ (CIB) analysis. We discuss notions of ‘objective’ and ‘objectivity’ as criteria for distinguishing appropriate scenario methods for climate change research. We distinguish seven distinct meanings of ‘objective,’ and demonstrate that CIB analysis is more objective than traditional subjective approaches. However, we also consider criticisms concerning which of the seven meanings of ‘objective’ are appropriate for scenario work. Finally, we arrive at conclusions regarding which meanings of ‘objective’ and ‘objectivity’ are relevant for climate change research. Because scientific assessments uncover knowledge relevant to the responses of a real, independently existing climate system, this requires scenario methodologies employed in such studies to also uphold the seven meanings of ‘objective’ and ‘objectivity.’. (shrink)
We critically examine Denis Walsh’s latest attack on the causalist view of fitness. Relying on Judea Pearl’s Sure-Thing Principle and geneticist John Gillespie’s model for fitness, Walsh has argued that the causal interpretation of fitness results in a reductio. We show that his conclusion only follows from misuse of the models, that is, (1) the disregard of the real biological bearing of the population-size parameter in Gillespie’s model and (2) the confusion of the distinction between ordinary probability and Pearl’s causal (...) probability. Properly understood, the models used by Walsh do not threaten the causalist view of fitness. (shrink)
Recent philosophical attention to climate models has highlighted their weaknesses and uncertainties. Here I address the ways that models gain support through observational data. I review examples of model ﬁt, variety of evidence, and independent support for aspects of the models, contrasting my analysis with that of other philosophers. I also investigate model robustness, which often emerges when comparing climate models simulating the same time period or set of conditions. Starting from Michael Weisberg’s analysis of robustness, I conclude that his (...) approach involves a version of reasoning from variety of evidence, enabling this robustness to be a conﬁrmatory virtue.. (shrink)
Today's climate models are supported in a couple of ways that receive little attention from philosophers or climate scientists. In addition to standard 'model fit', wherein a model's simulation is compared to observational data, there is an additional type of confirmation available through the variety of instances of model fit. When a model performs well at fitting first one variable and then another, the probability of the model under some standard confirmation function, say, likelihood, goes up more than under each (...) individual case of fit alone. Thus, two instances of fit of distinct variables of a global climate model using distinct data sets considered collectively will provide stronger evidence for a model than either one of the instances considered individually. This has consequences for model robustness. Sets of models that produce robust results will, if their assumptions vary enough and they each are observationally sound, provide reasons to endorse common structures found in those models. Finally, independent empirical support for aspects and assumptions of the model provides an additional confirmational virtue for climate models, contrary to what is implied by some current philosophical writing on this topic. (shrink)
The theory of evolution by natural selection is, perhaps, the crowning intellectual achievement of the biological sciences. There is, however, considerable debate about which entity or entities are selected and what it is that fits them for that role. This article aims to clarify what is at issue in these debates by identifying four distinct, though often confused, concerns and then identifying how the debates on what constitute the units of selection depend to a significant degree on which of these (...) four questions a thinker regards as central. (shrink)
Most models of generational succession in sexually reproducing populations necessarily move back and forth between genic and genotypic spaces. We show that transitions between and within these spaces are usually hidden by unstated assumptions about processes in these spaces. We also examine a widely endorsed claim regarding the mathematical equivalence of kin-, group-, individual-, and allelic-selection models made by Lee Dugatkin and Kern Reeve. We show that the claimed mathematical equivalence of the models does not hold. *Received January 2007; revised (...) April 2008. †To contact the authors, please write to: Elisabeth Lloyd, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, 130 Goodbody Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405; e-mail: email@example.com; Richard Lewontin, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138; Marcus Feldman, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Since the fundamental challenge that I laid at the doorstep of the pluralists was to defend, with nonderivative models, a strong notion of genic cause, it is fatal that Waters has failed to meet that challenge. Waters agrees with me that there is only a single cause operating in these models, but he argues for a notion of causal ‘parsing’ to sustain the viability of some form of pluralism. Waters and his colleagues have some very interesting and important ideas about (...) the sciences, involving pluralism and parsing or partitioning causes, but they are ideas in search of an example. He thinks he has found an example in the case of hierarchical and genic selection. I think he has not. (shrink)
I argue that four of the fundamental claims of those calling themselves `genic pluralists'Philip Kitcher, Kim Sterelny, and Ken Watersare defective. First, they claim that once genic selectionism is recognized, the units of selection problems will be dissolved. Second, Sterelny and Kitcher claim that there are no targets of selection (interactors). Third, Sterelny, Kitcher, and Waters claim that they have a concept of genic causation that allows them to give independent genic causal accounts of all selection processes. I argue (...) that each one of these claims is either false or misleading. Moreover, the challenge that arises from the availability of genic causal accounts, namely, the inability to choose on rational grounds among genic and higher-level accounts, is unsupported. (shrink)
Proceedings of the Pittsburgh Workshop in History and Philosophy of Biology, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, March 23-24 2001 Session 2: Female Orgasms and Evolutionary Theory.
David Hull's analysis of conceptual change in science, as presentedin his book, Science as a Process (1988), provides a useful framework for understanding one of the scientific controversies in which he actively and constructively intervened, the units of selectiondebates in evolutionary biology. What follows is a brief overview ofthose debates and some reflections on them.
I discuss two types of evidential problems with the most widely touted experiments in evolutionary psychology, those performed by Leda Cosmides and interpreted by Cosmides and John Tooby. First, and despite Cosmides and Tooby's claims to the contrary, these experiments don't fulfil the standards of evidence of evolutionary biology. Second Cosmides and Tooby claim to have performed a crucial experiment, and to have eliminated rival approaches. Though they claim that their results are consistent with their theory but contradictory to the (...) leading non-evolutionary alternative, Pragmatic Reasoning Schemas theory, I argue that this claim is unsupported. In addition, some of Cosmides and Tooby's interpretations arise from misguided and simplistic understandings of evolutionary biology. While I endorse the incorporation of evolutionary approaches into psychology, I reject the claims of Cosmides and Tooby that a modular approach is the only one supported by evolutionary biology. Lewontin's critical examinations of the applications of adaptationist thinking provide a background of evidentiary standards against which to view the currently fashionable claims of evolutionary psychology. (shrink)
I suggest following Paul Feyerabend's own advice, and interpreting Feyerabend's work in light of the principles laid out by John Stuart Mill. A review of Mill's essay, On Liberty, emphasizes the importance Mill placed on open and critical discussion for the vitality and progress of various aspects of human life, including the pursuit of scientific knowledge. Many of Feyerabend's more unusual stances, I suggest, are best interpreted as attempts to play certain roles--especially the role of "defender of unpopular minority opinion"--that (...) are necessary to fulfilling Mill's conditions for rational exchange and optimal human development. (shrink)
The emphasis on the limitations of objectivity, in specific guises and networks, has been a continuing theme of contemporary analytic philosophy for the past few decades. The popular sport of baiting feminist philosophers — into pointing to what's left out of objective knowledge, or into describing what methods, exactly, they would offer to replace the powerful objective methods grounding scientific knowledge — embodies a blatant double standard which has the effect of constantly putting feminist epistemologists on the defensive, on the (...) fringes, on the run.This strategy can only work if objectivity is transparent, simple, stable, and clear in its meaning. It most certainly is not. In fact, taking objectivity as a sort of beautiful primitive, self-evident in its value, and all-powerful in its revelatory power, requires careless philosophy, and the best workers in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of science have made reworked definitions of objectivity absolutely central to their own projects. In fact, classic feminist concerns with exploring the impact of sex and gender on knowledge, understanding, and other relations between human beings and the rest of the world fall squarely within the sort of human and social settings thatare already considered central in most current analytic metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of science. I argue that the burden of proof is clearly on those who wish toreject the centrality and relevance of sex and gender to our most fundamental philosophical work on knowledge and reality. (shrink)
The conflation of two fundamentally distinct issues has generated serious confusion in the philosophical and biological literature concerning the units of selection. The question of how a unit of selection of defined, theoretically, is rarely distinguished from the question of how to determine the empirical accuracy of claims--either specific or general--concerning which unit(s) is undergoing selection processes. In this paper, I begin by refining a definition of the unit of selection, first presented in the philosophical literature by William Wimsatt, which (...) is grounded in the structure of natural selection models. I then explore the implications of this structural definition for empirical evaluation of claims about units of selection. I consider criticisms of this view presented by Elliott Sober--criticisms taken by some (for example, Mayo and Gilinsky 1987) to provide definitive damage to the structuralist account. I shall show that Sober has misinterpreted the structuralist views; he knocks down a straw man in order to motivate his own causal account. Furthermore, I shall argue, Sober's causal account is dependent on the structuralist account that he rejects. I conclude by indicating how the refined structural definition can clarify which sorts of empirical evidence could be brought to bear on a controversial case involving units of selection. (shrink)
In this talk I do three things. First, I review what I take to be fruitful applications of the semantic view of theory structure to evolutionary theory. Second, I list and correct three common misunderstandings about the semantic view. Third, I evaluate the weaknesses and strengths of Horan's paper in this symposium. Specifically, I argue that the criticisms leveled against the semantic view by Horan are inappropriate because they incorporate some basic misconceptions about the semantic view itself.
In this paper I distinguish various ways in which empirical claims about evolutionary and ecological models can be supported by data. I describe three basic factors bearing on confirmation of empirical claims: fit of the model to data; independent testing of various aspects of the model, and variety of evident. A brief description of the kinds of confirmation is followed by examples of each kind, drawn from a range of evolutionary and ecological theories. I conclude that the greater complexity and (...) precision of my approach, as compared to, for instance, a Popperian approach, can facilitate detailed analysis and comparison of empirical claims. (shrink)
I address the controversy in evolutionary biology concerning which levels of biological entity (units) can and do undergo natural selection. I refine a definition of the unit of selection, first presented by William Wimsatt, that is grounded in the structure of natural selection models. I examine Elliott Sober's objection to this structural definition, the "homogeneous populations" problem; I find that neither the proposed definition nor Sober's own causal account can solve the problem. Sober, in his solution using his causal view, (...) imports precisely the information needed to make the structural definition effective. Finally, I indicate how the proposed definition can clarify which sorts of evidence could be brought to bear on the controversial case of the Myxoma virus. (shrink)
A precise formulation of the structure of modern evolutionary theory has proved elusive. In this paper, I introduce and develop a formal approach to the structure of population genetics, evolutionary theory's most developed sub-theory. Under the semantic approach, used as a framework in this paper, presenting a theory consists in presenting a related family of models. I offer general guidelines and examples for the classification of population genetics models; the defining features of the models are taken to be their state (...) spaces, parameters, and laws. The suggestions regarding the various aspects of the characterization of population genetics models provide an outline for further detailed research. (shrink)
When natural selection theory was presented, much active philosophical debate, in which Darwin himself participated, centered on its hypothetical nature, its explanatory power, and Darwin's methodology. Upon first examination, Darwin's support of his theory seems to consist of a set of claims pertaining to various aspects of explanatory success. I analyze the support of his method and theory given in the Origin of Species and private correspondence, and conclude that an interpretation focusing on the explanatory strengths of natural selection theory (...) accurately reflects neither Darwin's own self-consciously held views, nor the nature of his support. Darwin's methodological and philosophical arguments were at once consistently empiricist and more sophisticated than such interpretations credit to him. (shrink)