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  1. Constructivism, Intersubjectivity, Provability, and Triviality.Andrea Guardo - 2019 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 27 (4):515-527.
    Sharon Street defines her constructivism about practical reasons as the view that whether something is a reason to do a certain thing for a given agent depends on that agent’s normative point of view. However, Street has also maintained that there is a judgment about practical reasons which is true relative to every possible normative point of view, namely constructivism itself. I show that the latter thesis is inconsistent with Street’s own constructivism about epistemic reasons and discuss some consequences of (...)
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  • Essay Review:“What Made Ernst Unique?”.Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis - 2005 - Journal of the History of Biology 38 (3):609-614.
  • Likelihood, Analogy, and the Design Argument: A Discussion of Sober.Richard Foley - 2013 - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 16 (1):309-330.
    Recent work by Eliot Sober regarding the logical structure of the design argument challenges widely held views on how the history of this argument should be understood. This novel “likelihood interpretation” denies that the design argument is an analogical argument. Instead, Sober suggests that all references to artifacts serve an exclusively heuristic function, and do not play an evidential role in the design argument. In contrast, I contend that philosophical considerations as well as historical analysis of the works of David (...)
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  • A Critical Review of Philosophical Work on the Units of Selection Problem.Elliott Sober & David Sloan Wilson - 1994 - Philosophy of Science 61 (4):534-555.
    The evolutionary problem of the units of selection has elicited a good deal of conceptual work from philosophers. We review this work to determine where the issues now stand.
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  • The Process Dynamics of Normative Function.Wayne David Christensen & Mark H. Bickhard - 2002 - The Monist 85 (1):3-28.
    Outlines the etiological theory of normative functionality. Analysis of the autonomous system; Function of systems-oriented approaches; Specifications of system identity.
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  • Téléologie et fonctions en biologie. Une approche non causale des explications téléofonctionnelles.Alberto Molina Pérez - 2017 - Dissertation, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
    This dissertation focuses on teleology and functions in biology. More precisely, it focuses on the scientific legitimacy of teleofunctional attributions and explanations in biology. It belongs to a multi-faceted debate that can be traced back to at least the 1970s. One aspect of the debate concerns the naturalization of functions. Most authors try to reduce, translate or explain functions and teleology in terms of efficient causes so that they find their place in the framework of the natural sciences. Our approach (...)
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  • Do Functions Explain? Hegel and the Organizational View.Andrew J. Cooper - forthcoming - Hegel Bulletin:1-18.
    In this paper I return to Hegel's dispute with Kant over the conceptual ordering of external and internal purposiveness to distinguish between two conceptions of teleology at play in the contemporary function debate. I begin by outlining the three main views in the debate. I argue that only the organizational view can maintain the capacity of function ascriptions both to explain the presence of a trait and to identify its contribution to a current system, for it is the only view (...)
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  • What’s the Point? A Presentist Social Functionalist Account of Institutional Purpose.Armin W. Schulz - 2022 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 52 (1-2):53-80.
    Although it is clear that many of the major contemporary social problems center on the extent to which social institutions do or do not function as they are meant to do, it is still unclear exactly what the function of a social institution is—and thus when this function is undermined. This paper presents and defends a novel theory of social functionalism—presentist social functionalism—to answer these questions. According to this theory, the function of social institutions is grounded in those of their (...)
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  • Mathematical Explanation and the Biological Optimality Fallacy.Samantha Wakil & James Justus - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):916-930.
    Pure mathematics can play an indispensable role explaining empirical phenomena if recent accounts of insect evolution are correct. In particular, the prime life cycles of cicadas and the geometric structure of honeycombs are taken to undergird an inference to the best explanation about mathematical entities. Neither example supports this inference or the mathematical realism it is intended to establish. Both incorrectly assume that facts about mathematical optimality drove selection for the respective traits and explain why they exist. We show how (...)
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  • Species, Historicity, and Path Dependency.Marc Ereshefsky - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (5):714-726.
    This paper clarifies the historical nature of species by showing that species are path-dependent entities. A species’ identity is not determined by its intrinsic properties or its origin, but by its unique evolutionary path. Seeing that species are path-dependent entities has three implications: it shows that origin essentialism is mistaken, it rebuts two challenges to the species-are-historical-entities thesis, and it demonstrates that the identity of a species during speciation depends on future events.
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  • Hypothetical Pattern Idealization and Explanatory Models.Yasha Rohwer & Collin Rice - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (3):334-355.
    Highly idealized models, such as the Hawk-Dove game, are pervasive in biological theorizing. We argue that the process and motivation that leads to the introduction of various idealizations into these models is not adequately captured by Michael Weisberg’s taxonomy of three kinds of idealization. Consequently, a fourth kind of idealization is required, which we call hypothetical pattern idealization. This kind of idealization is used to construct models that aim to be explanatory but do not aim to be explanations.
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  • Species Have (Partly) Intrinsic Essences.Michael Devitt - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (5):648-661.
    The paper defends the doctrine that Linnaean taxa, including species, have essences that are, at least partly, underlying intrinsic, mostly genetic, properties. The consensus among philosophers of biology is that such essentialism is deeply wrong, indeed incompatible with Darwinism. I argue that biological generalizations about the morphology, physiology, and behavior of species require structural explanations that must advert to these essential properties. The paper concludes by summarizing my responses to the objection that, according to current “species concepts,” species are relational, (...)
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  • The Role of Randomness in Darwinian Evolution.Andreas Wagner - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (1):95-119.
    Historically, one of the most controversial aspects of Darwinian evolution has been the prominent role that randomness and random change play in it. Most biologists agree that mutations in DNA have random effects on fitness. However, fitness is a highly simplified scalar representation of an enormously complex phenotype. Challenges to Darwinian thinking have focused on such complex phenotypes. Whether mutations affect such complex phenotypes randomly is ill understood. Here I discuss three very different classes of well-studied molecular phenotypes in which (...)
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  • On the Virtues of Cursory Scientific Reductions.Joel K. Press - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1189-1199.
    Many philosophers accept a nonreductive physicalist view of at least some special sciences, which is to say that while they assert that each particular referent of any special science term is identical to some referent of a physical term, or token physicalism, they deny that special science types are identical to physical types. The most commonly cited reason for this position is Jerry Fodor's antireductionist argument based on the multiple realizability of many special science terms. I argue that if token (...)
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  • Where the Design Argument Goes Wrong: Auxiliary Assumptions and Unification.Maarten Boudry & Bert Leuridan - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (4):558-578.
    Sober has reconstructed the biological design argument in the framework of likelihoodism, purporting to demonstrate that it is defective for intrinsic reasons. We argue that Sober’s restriction on the introduction of auxiliary hypotheses is too restrictive, as it commits him to rejecting types of everyday reasoning that are clearly valid. Our account shows that the design argument fails, not because it is intrinsically untestable but because it clashes with the empirical evidence and fails to satisfy certain theoretical desiderata (in particular, (...)
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  • Why the Causal View of Fitness Survives.Jun Otsuka, Trin Turner, Colin Allen & Elisabeth A. Lloyd - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (2):209-224.
    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 (...)
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  • Natural Selection, Causality, and Laws: What Fodor and Piatelli-Palmarini Got Wrong.Elliott Sober - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (4):594-607.
    In their book What Darwin Got Wrong, Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini construct an a priori philosophical argument and an empirical biological argument. The biological argument aims to show that natural selection is much less important in the evolutionary process than many biologists maintain. The a priori argument begins with the claim that there cannot be selection for one but not the other of two traits that are perfectly correlated in a population; it concludes that there cannot be an evolutionary (...)
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  • Resurrecting Biological Essentialism.Michael Devitt - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (3):344-382.
    The article defends the doctrine that Linnaean taxa, including species, have essences that are, at least partly, underlying intrinsic, mostly genetic, properties. The consensus among philosophers of biology is that such essentialism is deeply wrong, indeed incompatible with Darwinism. I argue that biological generalizations about the morphology, physiology, and behavior of species require structural explanations that must advert to these essential properties. The objection that, according to current “species concepts,” species are relational is rejected. These concepts are primarily concerned with (...)
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  • How Do Natural Selection and Random Drift Interact?Marshall Abrams - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (5):666-679.
    One controversy about the existence of so called evolutionary forces such as natural selection and random genetic drift concerns the sense in which such “forces” can be said to interact. In this paper I explain how natural selection and random drift can interact. In particular, I show how population-level probabilities can be derived from individual-level probabilities, and explain the sense in which natural selection and drift are embodied in these population-level probabilities. I argue that whatever causal character the individual-level probabilities (...)
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  • Understanding Bias in Scientific Practice.Nancy E. Shaffer - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (3):97.
    Methodological objectivism is a conception of bias which obscures the contingent and limited nature of methodological principles behind the guise of fixed a priori standards. I suggest as an alternative a more flexible view of the operation of bias which I call the attribution model. The attribution model makes explicit the working principles of both parties to an actual charge of bias. It enables those involved to identify the issues in dispute between them, and is the basis for an approach (...)
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  • Biological Function, Adaptation, and Natural Design.Colin Allen & Marc Bekoff - 1995 - Philosophy of Science 62 (4):609-622.
    Recently something close to a consensus about the best way to naturalize the notion of biological function appears to be emerging. Nonetheless, teleological notions in biology remain controversial. In this paper we provide a naturalistic analysis for the notion of natural design. Many authors assume that natural design should be assimilated directly to function. Others find the notion problematic because it suggests that evolution is a directed process. We argue that both of these views are mistaken. Our naturalistic account does (...)
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  • Critical Notice of Adaptation and Environment by Robert N. Brandon. [REVIEW]Robert C. Richardson - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (1):122-136.
  • Critical Notice: Robert N. Brandon, Adaptation and Environment.Robert C. Richardson - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (1):122-136.
  • Life, "Artificial Life," and Scientific Explanation.Marc Lange - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (2):225-244.
    Recently, biologists and computer scientists who advocate the "strong thesis of artificial life" have argued that the distinction between life and nonlife is important and that certain computer software entities could be alive in the same sense as biological entities. These arguments have been challenged by Sober (1991). I address some of the questions about the rational reconstruction of biology that are suggested by these arguments: What is the relation between life and the "signs of life"? What work (if any) (...)
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  • Fitness Made Physical: The Supervenience of Biological Concepts Revisited.Marcel Weber - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (3):411-431.
    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 (...)
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  • Some Comment's on Rosenberg's Review.Elliott Sober - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (3):465-469.
    I am grateful to Philip Kitcher for inviting me to comment on Alexander Rosenberg's (1996) review of Philosophy of Biology (Sober 1993) and to Rosenberg for his kind words about my book at the very beginning and the very end of his review. However, I cannot help feeling that most of the material in Rosenberg's review describes a different book from the one I wrote. Of the four philosophical claims that he ascribes to me, only one of them is asserted (...)
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  • The Return of the Group.Kim Sterelny - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (4):562-584.
    Once upon a time in evolutionary theory, everything happened for the best. Predators killed only the old or the sick. Pecking orders and other dominance hierarchies minimized wasteful conflict within the group. Male displays ensured that only the best and the fittest had mates. In the culmination of this tradition, Wynne-Edwards argued that many species have mechanisms that ensure groups do not over-exploit their resource base. The “central function” of territoriality in birds and other higher animals is “of limiting the (...)
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  • Realization: Metaphysics, Mind, and Science.Robert A. Wilson - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):985-996.
    This paper surveys some recent work on realization in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of science.
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  • Explanation in Classical Population Genetics.Anya Plutynski - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1201-1214.
    The recent literature in philosophy of biology has drawn attention to the different sorts of explanations proffered in the biological sciences—we have molecular, biomedical, and evolutionary explanations. Do these explanations all have a common structure or relation that they seek to capture? This paper will answer in the negative. I defend a pluralistic and pragmatic approach to explanation. Using examples from classical population genetics, I argue that formal demonstrations, and even strictly “mathematical truths,” may serve as explanatory in different historical (...)
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  • Selection, Drift, and the “Forces” of Evolution.Christopher Stephens - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (4):550-570.
    Recently, several philosophers have challenged the view that evolutionary theory is usefully understood by way of an analogy with Newtonian mechanics. Instead, they argue that evolutionary theory is merely a statistical theory. According to this alternate approach, natural selection and random genetic drift are not even causes, much less forces. I argue that, properly understood, the Newtonian analogy is unproblematic and illuminating. I defend the view that selection and drift are causes in part by attending to a pair of important (...)
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  • Test Cases, Resolvability, and Group Selection: A Critical Examination of the Myxoma Case.Robert A. Wilson - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (3):380-401.
    The evolution of the myxoma virus in Australia has been presented for many years as a test case for the hypothesis that group selection can function effectively `in the wild.' This paper critically examines the myxoma case, and argues that its failure as a test case for this hypothesis has broader implications for debates over the levels of selection.
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  • On the Metaphysics of Species.Judith K. Crane - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (2):156-173.
    This paper explains the metaphysical implications of the view that species are individuals (SAI). I first clarify SAI in light of the separate distinctions between individuals and classes, particulars and universals, and abstract and concrete things. I then show why the standard arguments given in defense of SAI are not compelling. Nonetheless, the ontological status of species is linked to the traditional "species problem," in that certain species concepts do entail that species are individuals. I develop the idea that species (...)
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  • What is 'Normal'? An Evolution-Theoretic Foundation for Normic Laws and Their Relation to Statistical Normality.Gerhard Schurz - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (4):476-497.
    Normic laws have the form "if A, then normally B." They are omnipresent in everyday life and non-physical 'life' sciences such as biology, psychology, social sciences, and humanities. They differ significantly from ceteris-paribus laws in physics. While several authors have doubted that normic laws are genuine laws at all, others have argued that normic laws express a certain kind of prototypical normality which is independent of statistical majority. This paper presents a foundation for normic laws which is based on generalized (...)
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  • Race: Biological Reality or Social Construct?Robin O. Andreasen - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (3):666.
    Race was once thought to be a real biological kind. Today the dominant view is that objective biological races don't exist. I challenge the trend to reject the biological reality of race by arguing that cladism (a school of classification that individuates taxa by appeal to common ancestry) provides a new way to define race biologically. I also reconcile the proposed biological conception with constructivist theories about race. Most constructivists assume that biological realism and social constructivism are incompatible views about (...)
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  • Two Outbreaks of Lawlessness in Recent Philosophy of Biology.Elliott Sober - 1997 - Philosophy of Science 64 (4):467.
    John Beatty (1995) and Alexander Rosenberg (1994) have argued against the claim that there are laws in biology. Beatty's main reason is that evolution is a process full of contingency, but he also takes the existence of relative significance controversies in biology and the popularity of pluralistic approaches to a variety of evolutionary questions to be evidence for biology's lawlessness. Rosenberg's main argument appeals to the idea that biological properties supervene on large numbers of physical properties, but he also develops (...)
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  • Can Physicalist Antireductionism Compute the Embryo?Alex Rosenberg - 1997 - Philosophy of Science 64 (4):371.
    It is widely held that (1) there are autonomous levels of organization above that of the macromolecule and that (2) at least sometimes macromolecular processes are best explained in terms of such autonomous kinds. I argue that molecular developmental biology honors neither of these claims, and I show that the only way they can be rendered consistent with a minimal physicalism is through the adoption of controversial claims about causation and explanation which undercut the force of these two antireductionism claims.
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  • Proper Function and Recent Selection.Peter H. Schwartz - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (3):210-222.
    "Modern History" versions of the etiological theory claim that in order for a trait X to have the proper function F, individuals with X must have been recently favored by natural selection for doing F (Godfrey-Smith 1994; Griffiths 1992, 1993). For many traits with prototypical proper functions, however, such recent selection may not have occurred: traits may have been maintained due to lack of variation or due to selection for other effects. I examine this flaw in Modern History accounts and (...)
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  • The Common Cause Principle in Historical Linguistics.Christopher Hitchcock - 1998 - Philosophy of Science 65 (3):425-447.
    Despite the platitude that analytic philosophy is deeply concerned with language, philosophers of science have paid little attention to methodological issues that arise within historical linguistics. I broach this topic by arguing that many inferences in historical linguistics conform to Reichenbach's common cause principle (CCP). Although the scope of CCP is narrower than many have thought, inferences about the genealogies of languages are particularly apt for reconstruction using CCP. Quantitative approaches to language comparison are readily understood as methods for detecting (...)
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  • How Not to Detect DesignThe Design Inference. William A. Dembski.Branden Fitelson, Christopher Stephens & Elliott Sober - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (3):472-488.
    As every philosopher knows, “the design argument” concludes that God exists from premisses that cite the adaptive complexity of organisms or the lawfulness and orderliness of the whole universe. Since 1859, it has formed the intellectual heart of creationist opposition to the Darwinian hypothesis that organisms evolved their adaptive features by the mindless process of natural selection. Although the design argument developed as a defense of theism, the logic of the argument in fact encompasses a larger set of issues. William (...)
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  • Game Theoretic Explanations and the Evolution of Justice.Justin D'Arms, Robert Batterman & Krzyzstof Górny - 1998 - Philosophy of Science 65 (1):76-102.
    Game theoretic explanations of the evolution of human behavior have become increasingly widespread. At their best, they allow us to abstract from misleading particulars in order to better recognize and appreciate broad patterns in the phenomena of human social life. We discuss this explanatory strategy, contrasting it with the particularist methodology of contemporary evolutionary psychology. We introduce some guidelines for the assessment of evolutionary game theoretic explanations of human behavior: such explanations should be representative, robust, and flexible. Distinguishing these features (...)
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  • The Trials of Life: Natural Selection and Random Drift.Denis M. Walsh, Andre Ariew & Tim Lewens - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (3):452-473.
    We distinguish dynamical and statistical interpretations of evolutionary theory. We argue that only the statistical interpretation preserves the presumed relation between natural selection and drift. On these grounds we claim that the dynamical conception of evolutionary theory as a theory of forces is mistaken. Selection and drift are not forces. Nor do selection and drift explanations appeal to the (sub-population-level) causes of population level change. Instead they explain by appeal to the statistical structure of populations. We briefly discuss the implications (...)
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  • Fitness: Philosophical Problems.Grant Ramsey & Charles Pence - 2013 - eLS.
    Fitness plays many roles throughout evolutionary theory, from a measure of populations in the wild to a central element in abstract theoretical presentations of natural selection. It has thus been the subject of an extensive philosophical literature, which has primarily centered on the way to understand the relationship between fitness values and reproductive outcomes. If fitness is a probabilistic or statistical quantity, how is it to be defined in general theoretical contexts? How can it be measured? Can a single conceptual (...)
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  • Fodor’s B Ubbe Meise Against Darwinism.Elliott Sober - 2008 - Mind and Language 23 (1):42-49.
  • Plantinga’s Probability Arguments Against Evolutionary Naturalism.Branden Fitelson & Elliott Sober - 1998 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 79 (2):115–129.
    In Chapter 12 of Warrant and Proper Function, Alvin Plantinga constructs two arguments against evolutionary naturalism, which he construes as a conjunction E&N .The hypothesis E says that “human cognitive faculties arose by way of the mechanisms to which contemporary evolutionary thought directs our attention (p.220).”1 With respect to proposition N , Plantinga (p. 270) says “it isn’t easy to say precisely what naturalism is,” but then adds that “crucial to metaphysical naturalism, of course, is the view that there is (...)
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  • Conservative Reduction of Biology.Christian Sachse - 2011 - Philosophia Naturalis 48 (1):33-65.
  • La guerra de la Naturaleza, la carestía y la muerte como fuente del diseño de los seres vivos.Giorgio Airoldi & Cristian Saborido - 2020 - Endoxa 46:123.
    El proyecto del ‘Darwinismo Formal’ de Alan Grafen propone una formulación matemática de la teoría de Darwin que pretende demostrar que la selección natural moldea los rasgos fenotípicos a través de la maximización de la eficacia. El proyecto de Grafen reposa sobre tres premisas: la selección natural es la única fuerza que moldea los fenotipos; la eficacia es la única medida de le evolución; y el diseño biológico surge como resultado de un proceso de optimización selectiva. En este trabajo argumentamos (...)
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  • Cultural Evolution, Reductionism in the Social Sciences, and Explanatory Pluralism.Jean Lachapelle - 2000 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 30 (3):331-361.
    This article argues that it is possible to bring the social sciences into evolutionary focus without being committed to a thesis the author calls ontological reductionism, which is a widespread predilection for lower-level explanations. After showing why we should reject ontological reductionism, the author argues that there is a way to construe cultural evolution that does justice to the autonomy of social science explanations. This paves the way for a liberal approach to explanation the author calls explanatory pluralism, which allows (...)
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  • Laws, Models, and Theories in Biology: A Unifying Interpretation.Pablo Lorenzano - 2020 - In Lorenzo Baravalle & Luciana Zaterka (eds.), Life and Evolution, History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences. pp. 163-207.
    Three metascientific concepts that have been object of philosophical analysis are the concepts oflaw, model and theory. The aim ofthis article is to present the explication of these concepts, and of their relationships, made within the framework of Sneedean or Metatheoretical Structuralism (Balzer et al. 1987), and of their application to a case from the realm of biology: Population Dynamics. The analysis carried out will make it possible to support, contrary to what some philosophers of science in general and of (...)
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  • La Biología Evolucionaria Desenvolvimiental y el surgimiento de una nueva teoría de la evolución.Gustavo Caponi - 2016 - Metatheoria – Revista de Filosofía E Historia de la Ciencia 6:65--80.
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  • El holobionte/hologenoma como nivel de seleccion.Javier Suárez - 2021 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 36 (1):81-112.
    The units or levels of selection debate concerns the question of what kind of biological systems are stable enough that part of their evolution is a result of the process of natural selection acting at their level. Traditionally, the debate has concerned at least two different, though related, questions: the question of the level at which interaction with the environment occurs, and the question of the level at which reproduction occurs. In recent years, biologists and philosophers have discussed a new (...)
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