Pluralism, Realism and the Units of Selection

South African Journal of Philosophy 1 (39):47-62 (2020)
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Abstract

I consider two attempts to combine realism with pluralism about the units of selection: Sober and Wilson’s combination of “model” and “unit” pluralism, and Sterelny and Griffiths’ “local pluralism”. I argue that both of these attempts fail to show that realism and pluralism are compatible. Sober and Wilson’s pluralism turns out, on closer inspection, to be a kind of monism in disguise, while Sterelny and Griffiths’ local pluralism involves a combination of realism and anti-realism about interactors, and the units of selection, that is fundamentally unstable. My conclusion is that one must choose whether to be a realist or a pluralist in this area: one cannot be both. The question of which we should choose is a further question that I do not take a stand on.

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Sandy C. Boucher
University of New England (Australia)

Citations of this work

Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Extension in Science.Sandy C. Boucher - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

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