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Samir Okasha [82]S. Okasha [18]
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Profile: Samir Okasha (Bristol University)
  1.  60
    Samir Okasha (2006). Evolution and the Levels of Selection. Oxford University Press.
    Does natural selection act primarily on individual organisms, on groups, on genes, or on whole species? The question of levels of selection - on which biologists and philosophers have long disagreed - is central to evolutionary theory and to the philosophy of biology. Samir Okasha's comprehensive analysis gives a clear account of the philosophical issues at stake in the current debate.
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  2.  38
    Samir Okasha & Cedric Paternotte (2012). Group Adaptation, Formal Darwinism and Contextual Analysis. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25 (6):1127–1139.
    We consider the question: under what circumstances can the concept of adaptation be applied to groups, rather than individuals? Gardner and Grafen (2009, J. Evol. Biol.22: 659–671) develop a novel approach to this question, building on Grafen's ‘formal Darwinism’ project, which defines adaptation in terms of links between evolutionary dynamics and optimization. They conclude that only clonal groups, and to a lesser extent groups in which reproductive competition is repressed, can be considered as adaptive units. We re-examine the conditions under (...)
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  3. Samir Okasha (2002). Darwinian Metaphysics: Species and the Question of Essentialism. Synthese 131 (2):191-213.
    Biologists and philosophers of biology typically regard essentialism about speciesas incompatible with modern Darwinian theory. Analytic metaphysicians such asKripke, Putnam and Wiggins, on the other hand, believe that their essentialist thesesare applicable to biological kinds. I explore this tension. I show that standard anti-essentialist considerations only show that species do not have intrinsic essential properties. I argue that while Putnam and Kripke do make assumptions that contradict received biological opinion, their model of natural kinds, suitably modified, is partially applicable to (...)
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  4. S. Okasha (2011). Theory Choice and Social Choice: Kuhn Versus Arrow. Mind 120 (477):83-115.
    Kuhn’s famous thesis that there is ‘no unique algorithm’ for choosing between rival scientific theories is analysed using the machinery of social choice theory. It is shown that the problem of theory choice as posed by Kuhn is formally identical to a standard social choice problem. This suggests that analogues of well-known results from the social choice literature, such as Arrow’s impossibility theorem, may apply to theory choice. If an analogue of Arrow’s theorem does hold for theory choice this would (...)
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  5. S. Okasha (2000). Van Fraassen's Critique of Inference to the Best Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 31 (4):691-710.
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  6. Andrew Hamilton, Samir Okasha & Jay Odenbaugh, Philosophy of Biology.
    Philosophy of biology is a vibrant and growing field. From initial roots in the metaphysics of species (Ghiselin, Hull), questions about whether biology has laws of nature akin to those of physics (Ruse, Hull), and discussions of teleology and function (Grene 1974, Brandon 1981), the field has grown since the 1970s to include a vast range of topics. Over the last few decades, philosophy has had an important impact on biology, partly through following the model of engagement with science that (...)
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  7.  79
    Jonathan Birch & Samir Okasha (2015). Kin Selection and Its Critics. BioScience 65 (1):22-32.
    Hamilton’s theory of kin selection is the best-known framework for understanding the evolution of social behavior but has long been a source of controversy in evolutionary biology. A recent critique of the theory by Nowak, Tarnita, and Wilson sparked a new round of debate, which shows no signs of abating. In this overview, we highlight a number of conceptual issues that lie at the heart of the current debate. We begin by emphasizing that there are various alternative formulations of Hamilton’s (...)
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  8. Samir Okasha (2004). Wright on the Transmission of Support: A Bayesian Analysis. Analysis 64 (2):139–146.
  9.  24
    Samir Okasha (2016). The Relation Between Kin and Multilevel Selection: An Approach Using Causal Graphs. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):435-470.
    Kin selection and multilevel selection are alternative approaches for studying the evolution of social behaviour, the relation between which has long been a source of controversy. Many recent theorists regard the two approaches as ultimately equivalent, on the grounds that gene frequency change can be correctly expressed using either. However, this shows only that the two are formally equivalent, not that they offer equally good causal representations of the evolutionary process. This article articulates the notion of an ‘adequate causal representation’ (...)
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  10.  27
    Samir Okasha (2004). Multi-Level Selection, Covariance and Contextual Analysis. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (3):481-504.
    Two alternative statistical approaches to modelling multi-level selection in nature, both found in the contemporary biological literature, are contrasted. The simple covariance approach partitions the total selection differential on a phenotypic character into within-group and between-group components, and identifies the change due to group selection with the latter. The contextual approach partitions the total selection differential into different components, using multivariate regression analysis. The two approaches have different implications for the question of what constitutes group selection and what does not. (...)
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  11.  37
    Samir Okasha (2011). Optimal Choice in the Face of Risk: Decision Theory Meets Evolution. Philosophy of Science 78 (1):83-104.
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  12.  43
    Samir Okasha (2005). Multilevel Selection and the Major Transitions in Evolution. Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1013-1025.
    A number of recent biologists have used multi-level selection theory to help explain the major transitions in evolution. I argue that in doing so, they have shifted from a ‘synchronic’ to a ‘diachronic’ formulation of the levels of selection question. The implications of this shift in perspective are explored, in relation to an ambiguity in the meaning of multi-level selection. Though the ambiguity is well-known, it has never before been discussed in the context of the major transitions.
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  13.  99
    Samir Okasha (2001). What Did Hume Really Show About Induction? Philosophical Quarterly 51 (204):307-327.
  14.  48
    Samir Okasha (2012). Social Justice, Genomic Justice and the Veil of Ignorance: Harsanyi Meets Mendel. Economics and Philosophy 28 (1):43-71.
    John Harsanyi and John Rawls both used the veil of ignorance thought experiment to study the problem of choosing between alternative social arrangements. With his, Harsanyi tried to show that the veil of ignorance argument leads inevitably to utilitarianism, an argument criticized by Sen, Weymark and others. A quite different use of the veil-of-ignorance concept is found in evolutionary biology. In the cell-division process called meiosis, in which sexually reproducing organisms produce gametes, the chromosome number is halved; when meiosis is (...)
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  15.  70
    Samir Okasha (2009). Individuals, Groups, Fitness and Utility: Multi-Level Selection Meets Social Choice Theory. Biology and Philosophy 24 (5):561-584.
    In models of multi-level selection, the property of Darwinian fitness is attributed to entities at more than one level of the biological hierarchy, e.g. individuals and groups. However, the relation between individual and group fitness is a controversial matter. Theorists disagree about whether group fitness should always, or ever, be defined as total (or average) individual fitness. This paper tries to shed light on the issue by drawing on work in social choice theory, and pursuing an analogy between fitness and (...)
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  16.  30
    Samir Okasha (2008). Fisher's Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection—a Philosophical Analysis. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):319-351.
    This paper provides a philosophical analysis of the ongoing controversy surrounding R.A. Fisher's famous ‘fundamental theorem’ of natural selection. The difference between the ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ interpretations of the theorem is explained. I argue that proponents of the modern interpretation have captured Fisher's intended meaning correctly and shown that the theorem is mathematically correct, pace the traditional consensus. However, whether the theorem has any real biological significance remains an unresolved issue. I argue that the answer depends on whether we accept (...)
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  17.  11
    Samir Okasha & Cédric Paternotte (2014). Adaptation, Fitness and the Selection-Optimality Links. Biology and Philosophy 29 (2):225-232.
    We critically examine a number of aspects of Grafen’s ‘formal Darwinism’ project. We argue that Grafen’s ‘selection-optimality’ links do not quite succeed in vindicating the working assumption made by behavioural ecologists and others—that selection will lead organisms to exhibit adaptive behaviour—since these links hold true even in the presence of strong genetic and developmental constraints. However we suggest that the selection-optimality links can profitably be viewed as constituting an axiomatic theory of fitness. Finally, we compare Grafen’s project with Fisher’s ‘fundamental (...)
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  18.  87
    Samir Okasha (2002). Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.
    What is science? Is there a real difference between science and myth? Is science objective? Can science explain everything? This Very Short Introduction provides a concise overview of the main themes of contemporary philosophy of science. Beginning with a short history of science to set the scene, Samir Okasha goes on to investigate the nature of scientific reasoning, scientific explanation, revolutions in science, and theories such as realism and anti-realism. He also looks at philosophical issues in particular sciences, including the (...)
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  19.  47
    Samir Okasha (2008). Biological Altruism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  20.  44
    Samir Okasha (2015). Darwin’s Views on Group and Kin Selection: Comments on Elliott Sober’s Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards? Philosophical Studies 172 (3):823-828.
    My comments will focus on the second and third chapters of Sober’s book , which explore Darwin’s ideas about altruism, group selection and kin selection , and sex-ratio evolution . Sober makes a persuasive argument for his main claim: that Darwin was a subtler thinker on these topics than he is often taken to be. While there is much that I admire in Sober’s lucid discussion, I will focus on points of disagreement. Readers should note that this is not the (...)
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  21.  50
    Samir Okasha (forthcoming). On the Interpretation of Decision Theory. Economics and Philosophy:1-25.
  22.  45
    Samir Okasha (2011). Reply to Sober and Waters. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1):241-248.
    Elliott Sober and Ken Waters both raise interesting and difficult challenges for various aspects of the position I set out in Evolution and the Levels of the Selection. I am grateful to them for their penetrating criticisms of my work, and find myself in agreement with many of their points.
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  23.  80
    Samir Okasha (2001). Why Won't the Group Selection Controversy Go Away? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (1):25-50.
    The group selection controversy is about whether natural selection ever operates at the level of groups, rather than at the level of individual organisms. Traditionally, group selection has been invoked to explain the existence of altruistic behaviour in nature. However, most contemporary evolutionary biologists are highly sceptical of the hypothesis of group selection, which they regard as biologically implausible and not needed to explain the evolution of altruism anyway. But in their recent book, Elliot Sober and David Sloan Wilson [1998] (...)
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  24.  18
    Samir Okasha (2003). Does the Concept of “Clade Selection” Make Sense? Philosophy of Science 70 (4):739-751.
    The idea that clades might be units of selection, defended by a number of biologists and philosophers of biology, is critically examined. I argue that only entities which reproduce, i.e. leave offspring, can be units of selection, and that a necessary condition of reproduction is that the offspring entity be able, in principle, to outlive its parental entity. Given that clades are monophlyetic by definition, it follows that clades do not reproduce, so it makes no sense to talk about a (...)
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  25.  43
    Samir Okasha (1997). Laudan and Leplin on Empirical Equivalence. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (2):251-256.
    In this paper, I explore Larry Laudan's and Jarrett Leplin's recent claim that empirically equivalent theories may be differentially confirmed. I show that their attempt to prise apart empirical equivalence and epistemic parity commits them to two principles of confirmation that Hempel demonstrated to be incompatible.
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  26. S. Okasha (2011). Experiment, Observation and the Confirmation of Laws. Analysis 71 (2):222-232.
    It is customary to distinguish experimental from purely observational sciences. The former include physics and molecular biology, the latter astronomy and palaeontology. Experiments involve actively intervening in the course of nature, as opposed to observing events that would have happened anyway. When a molecular biologist inserts viral DNA into a bacterium in his laboratory, this is an experiment; but when an astronomer points his telescope at the heavens, this is an observation. Without the biologist’s handiwork the bacterium would never have (...)
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  27.  71
    Michael Weisberg, Samir Okasha & Uskali Mäki (2011). Modeling in Biology and Economics. Biology and Philosophy 26 (5):613-615.
  28.  13
    Samir Okasha (2011). Biological Ontology and Hierarchical Organization: A Defence of Rank Freedom. In Brett Calcott & Kim Sterelny (eds.), The Major Transitions in Evolution Revisited. MIT Press 53--64.
    This chapter presents a displacement of the organism as a privileged level of analysis in evolutionary biology. It is concerned with the ontology of biology systems, with particular reference to hierarchical organization. It argues that the concept of a rank-free hierarchy can be transposed to the major transitions hierarchy, with interesting consequences. This chapter shows that the idea of rank freedom makes good sense of a number of facets of the recent discussion of evolutionary transitions and multilevel selection. It suggests (...)
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  29.  71
    Samir Okasha (2002). Underdetermination, Holism and the Theory/Data Distinction. Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208):303-319.
    I examine the argument that scientific theories are typically 'underdetermined' by the data, an argument which has often been used to combat scientific realism. I deal with two objections to the underdetermination argument: (i) that the argument conflicts with the holistic nature of confirmation, and (ii) that the argument rests on an untenable theory/data dualism. I discuss possible responses to both objections, and argue that in both cases the proponent of underdetermination can respond in ways which are individually plausible, but (...)
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  30. Samir Okasha (2000). The Underdetermination of Theory by Data and the "Strong Programme" in the Sociology of Knowledge. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 14 (3):283 – 297.
    Advocates of the "strong programme" in the sociology of knowledge have argued that, because scientific theories are "underdetermined" by data, sociological factors must be invoked to explain why scientists believe the theories they do. I examine this argument, and the responses to it by J.R. Brown (1989) and L. Laudan (1996). I distinguish between a number of different versions of the underdetermination thesis, some trivial, some substantive. I show that Brown's and Laudan's attempts to refute the sociologists' argument fail. Nonetheless, (...)
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  31.  40
    Samir Okasha (2004). The “Averaging Fallacy” and the Levels of Selection. Biology and Philosophy 19 (2):167-184.
    This paper compares two well-known arguments in the units of selection literature, one due to , the other due to . Both arguments concern the legitimacy of averaging fitness values across contexts and making inferences about the level of selection on that basis. The first three sections of the paper shows that the two arguments are incompatible if taken at face value, their apparent similarity notwithstanding. If we accept Sober and Lewontin's criterion for when averaging genic fitnesses across diploid genotypes (...)
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  32. Samir Okasha (2007). Rational Choice, Risk Aversion, and Evolution. Journal of Philosophy 104 (5):217-235.
  33.  48
    Samir Okasha, Population Genetics. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  34.  54
    Samir Okasha (2002). Genetic Relatedness and the Evolution of Altruism. Philosophy of Science 69 (1):138-149.
    In their recent book, Elliott Sober and David Wilson (1998) argue that evolutionary biologists have wrongly regarded kinship as the exclusive means by which altruistic behavior can evolve, at the expense of other mechanisms. I argue that Sober and Wilson overlook certain genetical considerations which suggest that kinship is likely to be a more powerful means for generating complex altruistic adaptations than the alternative mechanisms they propose.
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  35.  45
    Samir Okasha (2005). On Niche Construction and Extended Evolutionary Theory. Biology and Philosophy 20 (1):1-10.
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  36. Samir Okasha & Ken Binmore (eds.) (2012). Evolution and Rationality: Decisions, Cooperation and Strategic Behaviour. Cambridge University Press.
    This volume explores from multiple perspectives the subtle and interesting relationship between the theory of rational choice and Darwinian evolution. In rational choice theory, agents are assumed to make choices that maximize their utility; in evolution, natural selection 'chooses' between phenotypes according to the criterion of fitness maximization. So there is a parallel between utility in rational choice theory and fitness in Darwinian theory. This conceptual link between fitness and utility is mirrored by the interesting parallels between formal models of (...)
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  37.  56
    S. Okasha (2000). Holism About Meaning and About Evidence: In Defence of W. V. Quine. [REVIEW] Erkenntnis 52 (1):39-61.
    Holistic claims about evidence are a commonplace inthe philosophy of science; holistic claims aboutmeaning are a commonplace in the philosophy oflanguage. W. V. Quine has advocated both types ofholism, and argued for an intimate link between thetwo. Semantic holism may be inferred from theconjunction of confirmation holism andverificationism, he maintains. But in their recentbook Holism: a Shopper's Guide, Jerry Fodor andErnest Lepore (1992) claim that this inference isfallacious. In what follows, I defend Quine's argumentfor semantic holism from Fodor and Lepore'smulti-pronged (...)
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  38.  75
    Samir Okasha (2005). Altruism, Group Selection and Correlated Interaction. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (4):703-725.
    Group selection is one acknowledged mechanism for the evolution of altruism. It is well known that for altruism to spread by natural selection, interactions must be correlated; that is, altruists must tend to associate with one another. But does group selection itself require correlated interactions? Two possible arguments for answering this question affirmatively are explored. The first is a bad argument, for it rests on a product/process confusion. The second is a more subtle argument, whose validity (or otherwise) turns on (...)
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  39. Noretta Koertge, Janet A. Kourany, Ronald N. Giere, Peter Gildenhuys, Thomas A. C. Reydon, Stéphanie Ruphy, Samir Okasha, Jaakko Hintikka & John Symons (2003). 10. Simulated Experiments: Methodology for a Virtual World Simulated Experiments: Methodology for a Virtual World (Pp. 105-125). [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 70 (1).
     
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  40.  7
    S. Okasha (2016). The Relation Between Kin and Multilevel Selection: An Approach Using Causal Graphs. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):435-470.
    Kin selection and multilevel selection are alternative approaches for studying the evolution of social behaviour, the relation between which has long been a source of controversy. Many recent theorists regard the two approaches as ultimately equivalent, on the grounds that gene frequency change can be correctly expressed using either. However, this shows only that the two are formally equivalent, not that they offer equally good causal representations of the evolutionary process. This article articulates the notion of an ‘adequate causal representation’ (...)
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  41.  93
    Samir Okasha, Ken Binmore, Jonathan Grose & Cédric Paternotte (2010). Cooperation, Conflict, Sex and Bargaining. Biology and Philosophy 25 (2):257-267.
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  42. S. Okasha (2003). Could Religion Be a Group-Level Adaptation of Homo Sapiens? - Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion and the Nature of Societydavid Sloan Wilson; University of Chicago Press, 2002, Pp. V+268, Price $25 Hardback, ISBN 0-226-90134-. [REVIEW] Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 34 (4):699-705.
  43.  91
    S. Okasha (2013). On a Flawed Argument Against the KK Principle. Analysis 73 (1):80-86.
    Externalists in epistemology often reject the KK principle – which says that if a person knows that p, then they know that they know that p. This paper argues that one standard argument against the KK principle that many externalists make is fallacious, as it involves illicit substitution into an intensional context. The fallacy is exposed and discussed.
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  44.  5
    S. Okasha (2016). The Relation Between Kin and Multilevel Selection: An Approach Using Causal Graphs. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):435-470.
    Kin selection and multilevel selection are alternative approaches for studying the evolution of social behaviour, the relation between which has long been a source of controversy. Many recent theorists regard the two approaches as ultimately equivalent, on the grounds that gene frequency change can be correctly expressed using either. However, this shows only that the two are formally equivalent, not that they offer equally good causal representations of the evolutionary process. This article articulates the notion of an ‘adequate causal representation’ (...)
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  45.  75
    Samir Okasha (2007). What Does Goodman's 'Grue' Problem Really Show? Philosophical Papers 36 (3):483-502.
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  46.  44
    Samir Okasha (2006). The Levels of Selection Debate: Philosophical Issues. Philosophy Compass 1 (1):74–85.
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  47.  17
    Samir Okasha (2007). Cultural Inheritance and Fisher's “Fundamental Theorem” of Natural Selection. Biological Theory 2 (3):290-299.
    The idea that natural selection can operate on cultural as well as genetic variation is central to recent theories of cultural evolution. This raises an overarching question: how much of traditional evolutionary theory, which was formulated in population-genetic terms, can survive intact once the possibility of cultural inheritance is taken into account? This question is addressed in relation to R. A. Fisher’s “fundamental theorem” of natural selection. Though Fisher’s theorem may appear to be an essentially genetic result, a version of (...)
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  48.  42
    Samir Okasha (2005). Maynard Smith on the Levels of Selection Question. Biology and Philosophy 20 (5):989-1010.
    The levels of selection problem was central to Maynard Smith’s work throughout his career. This paper traces Maynard Smith’s views on the levels of selection, from his objections to group selection in the 1960s to his concern with the major evolutionary transitions in the 1990s. The relations between Maynard Smith’s position and those of Hamilton and G.C. Williams are explored, as is Maynard Smith’s dislike of the Price equation approach to multi-level selection. Maynard Smith’s account of the ‘core Darwinian principles’ (...)
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  49.  50
    Samir Okasha (2010). Replies to My Critics. Biology and Philosophy 25 (3):425-431.
    This paper contains replies to the reviews of my book by Steven Downes, Massimo Pigliucci and Deborah Shelton & Rick Michod.
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  50.  34
    Samir Okasha (2015). On Arrow’s Theorem and Scientific Rationality: Reply to Morreau and Stegenga. Mind 124 (493):279-294.
    In a recent article I compared the problem of theory choice, in which scientists must choose between competing theories, with the problem of social choice, in which society must choose between competing social alternatives. I argued that the formal machinery of social choice theory can be used to shed light on the problem of theory choice in science, an argument that has been criticized by Michael Morreau and Jacob Stegenga. This article replies to Morreau’s and Stegenga’s criticisms.
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