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  1. Sources of Evolutionary Contingency: Chance Variation and Genetic Drift.T. Y. William Wong - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-33.
    Contingency-theorists have gestured to a series of phenomena such as random mutations or rare Armageddon-like events as that which accounts for evolutionary contingency. These phenomena constitute a class, which may be aptly called the ‘sources of contingency’. In this paper, I offer a probabilistic conception of what it is to be a source of contingency and then examine two major candidates: chance variation and genetic drift, both of which have historically been taken to be ‘chancy’ in a number of different (...)
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  • Gouldian Arguments and the Sources of Contingency.Alison K. McConwell & Adrian Currie - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (2):243-261.
    ‘Gouldian arguments’ appeal to the contingency of a scientific domain to establish that domain’s autonomy from some body of theory. For instance, pointing to evolutionary contingency, Stephen Jay Gould suggested that natural selection alone is insufficient to explain life on the macroevolutionary scale. In analysing contingency, philosophers have provided source-independent accounts, understanding how events and processes structure history without attending to the nature of those events and processes. But Gouldian Arguments require source-dependent notions of contingency. An account of contingency is (...)
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  • Contingency’s Causality and Structural Diversity.Alison McConwell - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (2):26.
    What is the relationship between evolutionary contingency and diversity? The evolutionary contingency thesis emphasizes dependency relations and chance as the hallmarks of evolution. While contingency can be destructive of, for example, the fragile and complex dynamics in an ecosystem, I will mainly focus on the productive or causal aspect of contingency for a particular sort of diversity. There are many sorts of diversities: Gould is most famous for his diversity-to-decimation model, which includes disparate body plans distinguishing different phyla. However, structural (...)
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  • The Evolutionary Contingency Thesis and Evolutionary Idiosyncrasies.T. Wong - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (2):22.
    Much philosophical progress has been made in elucidating the idea of evolutionary contingency in a recent re-burgeoning of the debate. However, additional progress has been impaired on three fronts. The first relates to its characterisation: the under-specification of various contingency claims has made it difficult to conceptually pinpoint the scope to which ‘contingency’ allegedly extends, as well as which biological forms are in contention. That is—there appears to be no systematic means with which to fully specify contingency claims which has (...)
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  • Variety-of-Evidence Reasoning About the Distant Past: A Case Study in Paleoclimate Reconstruction.Martin Vezér - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7 (2):257-265.
    The epistemology of studies addressing questions about historical and prehistorical phenomena is a subject of increasing discussion among philosophers of science. A related field of inquiry that has yet to be connected to this topic is the epistemology of climate science. Branching these areas of research, I show how variety-of-evidence reasoning accounts for scientific inferences about the past by detailing a case study in paleoclimate reconstruction. This analysis aims to clarify the logic of historical inquiry in general and, by focusing (...)
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  • Philosophical Issues in Recent Paleontology.Derek D. Turner - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (7):494-505.
    The distinction between idiographic science, which aims to reconstruct sequences of particular events, and nomothetic science, which aims to discover laws and regularities, is crucial for understanding the paleobiological revolution of the 1970s and 1980s. Stephen Jay Gould at times seemed conflicted about whether to say (a) that idiographic science is fine as it is or (b) that paleontology would have more credibility if it were more nomothetic. Ironically, one of the lasting results of the paleobiological revolution was a new (...)
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  • Evolutionary Contingency, Stability, and Biological Laws.Jani Raerinne - 2015 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 46 (1):45-62.
    The contingency of biological regularities—and its implications for the existence of biological laws—has long puzzled biologists and philosophers. The best argument for the contingency of biological regularities is John Beatty’s evolutionary contingency thesis, which will be re-analyzed here. First, I argue that in Beatty’s thesis there are two versions of strong contingency used as arguments against biological laws that have gone unnoticed by his commentators. Second, Beatty’s two different versions of strong contingency are analyzed in terms of two different stabilities (...)
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