Explanatory pluralism in paleobiology

Philosophy of Science 66 (3):236 (1999)
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Abstract

This paper is a defense of "explanatory pluralism" (i.e., the view that some events can be correctly explained in two distinct ways). To defend pluralism, I identify two distinct (but compatible) styles of explanation in paleobiology. The first approach ("actual sequence explanation") traces out the particular forces that affect each species. The second approach treats the trend as "passive" or "random" diffusion away from a boundary in morphological space. I argue that while these strategies are distinct, some trends are correctly explained in both ways. Further, since neither strategy can be reduced or eliminated from paleobiology, we should accept that both strategies can provide correct explanations for a single trend

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Todd Grantham
College of Charleston

Citations of this work

The Ontic Account of Scientific Explanation.Carl F. Craver - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver R. Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the special science: The case of biology and history. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 27-52.
Chance and macroevolution.Roberta L. Millstein - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (4):603-624.

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References found in this work

Supervenience and mind: selected philosophical essays.Jaegwon Kim - 1993 - New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
Statistical explanation & statistical relevance.Wesley C. Salmon - 1971 - [Pittsburgh]: University of Pittsburgh Press. Edited by Richard C. Jeffrey & James G. Greeno.
Tempered realism about the force of selection.C. Kenneth Waters - 1991 - Philosophy of Science 58 (4):553-573.
Explanatory pluralism in evolutionary biology.Kim Sterelny - 1996 - Biology and Philosophy 11 (2):193-214.

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