The Metaphysics of Evolution

Interface Focus 7 (5):1-9 (2017)
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Abstract

This paper briefly describes process metaphysics, and argues that it is better suited for describing life than the more standard thing, or substance, metaphysics. It then explores the implications of process metaphysics for conceptualizing evolution. After explaining what it is for an organism to be a process, the paper takes up the Hull/Ghiselin thesis of species as individuals and explores the conditions under which a species or lineage could constitute an individual process. It is argued that only sexual species satisfy these conditions, and that within sexual species the degree of organization varies. This, in turn, has important implications for species' evolvability. One important moral is that evolution will work differently in different biological domains.

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John Dupre
University of Exeter

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