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)
This article discusses various dangers that accompany the supposedly benign methods in behavioral evoltutionary biology and evolutionary psychology that fall under the framework of "methodological adaptationism." A "Logic of Research Questions" is proposed that aids in clarifying the reasoning problems that arise due to the framework under critique. The live, and widely practiced, " evolutionary factors" framework is offered as the key comparison and alternative. The article goes beyond the traditional critique of Stephen Jay Gould and Richard C. Lewontin, to (...) present problems such as the disappearance of evidence, the mishandling of the null hypothesis, and failures in scientific reasoning, exemplified by a case from human behavioral ecology. In conclusion the paper shows that "methodological adaptationism" does not deserve its benign reputation. (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)
This is a critique of "A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion" (Thornhill & Palmer, 2000). Lloyd argues that they have failed to do "excellent science" as required to defend themselves against criticism. As an example, Lloyd contends that they make conclusions which depend on rape being a single trait, while failing to prorivde any basis for such an assumption.
I propose a distinct type of robustness, which I suggest can support a confirmatory role in scientific reasoning, contrary to the usual philosophical claims. In model robustness, repeated production of the empirically successful model prediction or retrodiction against a background of independentlysupported and varying model constructions, within a group of models containing a shared causal factor, may suggest how confident we can be in the causal factor and predictions/retrodictions, especially once supported by a variety of evidence framework. I present climate (...) models of greenhouse gas global warming of the 20th Century as an example, and emphasize climate scientists’ discussions of robust models and causal aspects. The account is intended as applicable to a broad array of sciences that use complex modeling techniques. (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)
In men and women sexual arousal culminates in orgasm, with female orgasm solely from sexual intercourse often regarded as a unique feature of human sexuality. However, orgasm from sexual intercourse occurs more reliably in men than in women, likely reflecting the different types of physical stimulation men and women require for orgasm. In men, orgasms are under strong selective pressure as orgasms are coupled with ejaculation and thus contribute to male reproductive success. By contrast, women's orgasms in intercourse are highly (...) variable and are under little selective pressure as they are not a reproductive necessity. The proximal mechanisms producing variability in women's orgasms are little understood. In 1924 Marie Bonaparte proposed that a shorter distance between a woman's clitoris and her urethral meatus (CUMD) increased her likelihood of experiencing orgasm in intercourse. She based this on her published data that were never statistically analyzed. In 1940 Landis and colleagues published similar data suggesting the same relationship, but these data too were never fully analyzed. We analyzed raw data from these two studies and found that both demonstrate a strong inverse relationship between CUMD and orgasm during intercourse. Unresolved is whether this increased likelihood of orgasm with shorter CUMD reflects increased penile–clitoral contact during sexual intercourse or increased penile stimulation of internal aspects of the clitoris. CUMD likely reflects prenatal androgen exposure, with higher androgen levels producing larger distances. Thus these results suggest that women exposed to lower levels of prenatal androgens are more likely to experience orgasm during sexual intercourse. ￼￼￼. (shrink)
Holobionts, consisting of a host and diverse microbial symbionts, function as distinct biological entities anatomically, metabolically, immunologically, and developmentally. Symbionts can be transmitted from parent to offspring by a variety of vertical and horizontal methods. Holobionts can be considered levels of selection in evolution because they are well-defined interactors, replicators/reproducers, and manifestors of adaptation. An initial mathematical model is presented to help understand how holobionts evolve. The model offered combines the processes of horizontal symbiont transfer, within-host symbiont proliferation, vertical symbiont (...) transmission, and holobiont selection. The model offers equations for the population dynamics and evolution of holobionts whose hologenomes differ in gene copy number, not in allelic or loci identity. The model may readily be extended to include variation among holobionts in the gene identities of both symbionts and host. (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)
My contribution to this Symposium focuses on the links between sexuality and reproduction from the evolutionary point of view.' The relation between women's sexuality and reproduction is particularly importantb ecause of a vital intersectionb etweenp olitics and biology feminists have noticed, for more than a century, that women's identity is often defined in terms of her reproductive capacity. More recently, in the second wave of the feminist movement in the United States, debates about women'si dentityh ave explicitlyi ncludeds exuality;m uch (...) feminist argument in the late 1960's and early 1970's involved an attempt to separate out an autonomous female sexuality from women's reproductive functions. It is especially relevant, then, to examine biological arguments, particularlye volutionarya rgumentst, o see what they say about whether and how women's sexuality is related to reproduction. We shall find that many evolutionarya rgumentss eem to supportt he direct linkingo f female sexualitya nd reproductionY. et I will argue that this supporti s not well-groundedI. n fact, I think evolutionarye xplanationso f female sexuality exemplify how social beliefs and social agendas can influence very basic biological explanations of fundamental physiological processes. In this paper, I shall spend some time spelling out a few examples in which assumptions about the close link between reproduction and sexuality yield misleading results, then I shall conclude with a discussion of the consequences of this case study for issues in the philosophy of science. (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)
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)
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. 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)
Two major clarifications have greatly abetted the understanding and fruitful expansion of the theory of natural selection in recent years: the acknowledgment that interactors, not replicators, constitute the causal unit of selection; and the recognition that interactors are Darwinian individuals, and that such individuals exist with potency at several levels of organization (genes, organisms, demes, and species in particular), thus engendering a rich hierarchical theory of selection in contrast with Darwin’s own emphasis on the organismic level. But a piece of (...) the argument has been missing, and individuals at levels distinct from organisms have been denied potency (although granted existence within the undeniable logic of the theory), because they do not achieve individuality with the same devices used by organisms and therefore seem weak by comparison. We show here that different features define Darwinian individuality across scales of size and time. In particular, species-individuals may develop few emergent features as direct adaptations. The interactor approach works with emergent fitnesses, not with emergent features; and species, as a consequence of their different mechanism for achieving individuality (reproductive exclusivity among subparts, that is, among organisms), express many effects from other levels. Organisms, by contrast, suppress upwardly cascading effects, because the organismic style of individuality (by functional integration of subparts) does not permit much competition or differential reproduction of parts from within. Species do not suppress the operation of lower levels; such effects therefore become available as exaptations conferring emergent fitness—a primary source of the different strength that species achieve as effective Darwinian individuals in evolution. (shrink)
climate scientists have been engaged in a decades-long debate over the standing of satellite measurements of the temperature trends of the atmosphere above the surface of the earth. This is especially significant because skeptics of global warming and the greenhouse effect have utilized this debate to spread doubt about global climate models used to predict future states of climate. I use this case from an under-studied science to illustrate two distinct philosophical approaches to the relation among data, scientists, measurement, models, (...) and theory. I argue that distinguishing between 'direct' empiricist and 'complex' empiricist approaches helps us understand and analyze this important scientific episode. I also introduce a complex empiricist account of testing and evaluation, and contrast it with the basic Hypothetico-Deductive approach to the climate models used by the direct empiricists. This more developed complex empiricist apporach will serve philosophy of science well, as computational models become more wide-spread in the sciences. (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)
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)
Given the recent explosion of interest in applications of evolutionary biology to understanding human psychology, we think it timely to assure better understanding of modern evolutionary theory among the psychologists who might be using it. We find it necessary to do so because of the very reducd version of evolutionary theorizing that has been incorporated into much of evolutionary psychology so far. Our aim here is to clarify why the use of a reduced version of evolutionary genetics will lead to (...) faulty science and to indicate where other resources of evolutionary biology can be found that might elevate the standard of the evolutionary component of evolutionary psychology. (shrink)
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..
A specific form of research question, for instance, “What is the probability of a certain class of weather events, given global climate change, relative to a world without?” could be answered with the use of FAR or RR as the most common approaches to discover and ascribe extreme weather events. Kevin Trenberth et al. and Theodore Shepherd have expressed doubts in their latest works whether it is the most appropriate explanatory tool or the way of public outreach concerning climate events (...) and extremes. As an alternative, these researchers focus on complementary questions, for example, “How much did climate change affect the severity of a given storm?” advocating a “storyline” approach. New methods and new research questions are neither foreign, nor controversial from the standpoint of history and philosophy of science, especially those, related to public interest. Nevertheless, the new proposal has got a tepid reception from the majority of professionals of the given field. They argued that this approach can cause weakening of standards and neglecting of scientific method. The following paper attempts to find the roots of the supposed controversy. We claim inefficiency of uncompromising approach to D&A in absolute sense and assert that errors of a particular type may have a different level of concern in society, depending on the variety of contexts. Therefore, context defines the risk of over-estimation vs. under-estimation of harm. (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 address the controversy in the literature concerning the definition of holobionts and the apparent constraints on their evolution using concepts from community population genetics. The genetics of holobionts, consisting of a host and diverse microbial symbionts, has been neglected in many discussions of the topic, and, where it has been discussed, a gene-centric, species-centric view, based in genomic conflict, has been predominant. Because coevolution takes place between traits or genes in two or more species and not, strictly speaking, between (...) species, it may affect some traits but not others in either host or symbiont. Moreover, when interacting species pairs are embedded in a larger community, indirect ecological effects can alter the expected pairwise dynamics. Mode of symbiont transmission and the degree of host inbreeding both affect the extent of microbial mixing across host lineages and thereby the degree to which selection on one trait of either partner affects other aspects of a holobiont phenotype. We discuss several potential defining criteria for holobionts using community genetics and population genetics models, suggesting their application and limitations. Using community genetics models, we show how conflict between genomes can be self-limiting, while cooperation and mutualism tend to be self-accelerating. It is likely that this bias in the evolutionary dynamics of interaction between hosts and symbionts is an important feature of holobionts. This bias in the evolutionary dynamic could contribute to explaining the absence of cheaters from natural mutualisms, although cheaters are predicted by gene-centered conflict theory to cause the evolutionary instability of mutualisms. Additionally, it may help explain the more frequent origin of mutualisms from parasitic than from free-living systems, an evolutionary trajectory opposite to that predicted by genome conflict theory. (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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com. (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 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)
We sley Salmon, in his influential and detailed book, Four Decades of Scientific Explanation, argues that the pragmatic approach to scientific explanation, “construed as the claim that scientific explanation can be explicated entirely in pragmatic terms” (1989, 185) is inadequate. The specific inadequacy ascribed to a pragmatic account is that objective relevance relations cannot be incorporated into such an account. Salmon relies on the arguments given in Kitcher and Salmon (1987) to ground this objection. He also suggests that Peter Railton’s (...) concepts of the ideal explanatory text and explanatory information (Railton 1981) can provide what the pragmatic approach lacks. This suggestion is not a conclusion of course; we read it as the promotion of part of a research program aimed at forging a greater consensus on scientific explanation-an admirable goal. However, we do not see the pragmatic approach as inadequate. We will show that a synthetic account inspired by Salmon’s adaptation of Railton would be equivalent to van Fraassen’s pragmatic account in three respects: accepting or rejecting requests for explanation; the practice of giving scientific explanations; and the evaluation of the goodness of explanations. We include all three under the general rubric of explanatory “practice.” Admittedly these are not the only three features by which an account of explanation might be evaluated. Roughly, we mean to show that a synthetic account cannot do a better job of accounting for the scientific practices which are of importance to the constructive empiricist, and therefore no argument can be presented to the constructive empiricist to convince her that by her own standards the synthetic account is superior. (shrink)
Many of the commentators—let’s ignore their sex for the moment—suggested including women in the Feyerabend conference. Then the question was raised, “but are they of the right quality, status, rank?” That is, do they bring down the average quality of the conference in virtue of their being of inferior status, or, in Vincenzo Politi’s words, not “someone whose work is both relevant to the topic of the conference and also as widely recognized as the work of the invited speakers” (HOPOS-L (...) archive, “CFP: Feyerabend Conference,” Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 14:57:20)? It is extremely important that such a discussion of quality, status, and rank recognize the scourge of evaluation bias and its long-term and pervasive consequences. One well-designed study this past year, published by the National Academy of Sciences, established prominent evaluation bias among both male and female science faculty in their evaluations of a student applying for a managerial job, who was randomly assigned either a male or a female name (Moss-Racusin et al. 2012). These professors examined the qualifications of the students and decided whether to hire them, what salary to give them, and whether to mentor themand howmuch to do so.The resultswere that both male and female scientists hired more men, gave them higher salaries, and offered more mentoring to them, even though themale applications were identical to the female applications. When probed about their reasons for not hiring or mentoring the female applicants, the professors explained that they based their decisions on the inferior competence of the applicant: the female applicants were perceived as less competent by all professors (with identical applications between males and females). This is what “evaluation bias” looks like, and it has been established in many, many contexts since the 1970s—this is only the most recent. (shrink)
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 should like to offer my greatest thanks to Paul Griffiths for providing the opportunity for this exchange, and to commentators Gillian Brown, Steven Fuller, Stefan Linquist, and Erika Milam for their generous and thought-provoking comments. I shall do my best in this space to respond to some of their concerns.
Some methodological adaptationists hijacked the term “exaptation,” and took an occasion of Stephen Jay Gould’s misspeaking as confirmation that it possessed an evolutionarily “designed” function and was a version of an adaptation, something it was decidedly not. Others provided a standard of evidence for exaptation that was inappropriate, and based on an adaptationist worldview. This article is intended to serve as both an analysis of and correction to those situations. Gould and Elisabeth Vrba’s terms, “exaptation” and “aptation,” as originally introduced, (...) are very useful, unlike the faded adaptationist echo of “exaptation” devised by the methodological adaptationists, which has made the term incoherent. We will discuss how exaptation relates to function, to aptation, and to adaptation, both primary and secondary. These ideas have been rendered practically useless through their mistaken definitions and misapplications by evolutionary psychologists. (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.
I admire Wilson & Sober's (W & S's) aim, to alert social scientists that group selection has risen from the ashqs, and to explicate its relevance to the behavioral sciences. Group selection has beenwidely misunderstood; furthermore, both authors have been instrumental in illuminating conceptual problems surrounding higher-level selection. Still, I find that this target article muddies the waters, primarily through its shifting and confused definition of a "vehicle" of selection. The fundamental problem is an ambiguity in the definition of "adaptation." (...) On the one hand, any evolutionary change that results from a selection process could be called an adaptation, by definition; I call this the "weak" view of adaptation. A "strong" view of adaptation, on the other hand, includes some notion of design - the evolution of a specific complex trait understood, in an engineering sense, to provide a mechanism favoring its owner's success in contributing to the evolutionary lineage. (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)