In What Sense Does ‘Nothing Make Sense Except in the Light of Evolution’?

Acta Biotheoretica 57 (1-2):11-32 (2009)
Abstract
Dobzhansky argued that biology only makes sense if life on earth has a shared history. But his dictum is often reinterpreted to mean that biology only makes sense in the light of adaptation. Some philosophers of science have argued in this spirit that all work in ‘proximal’ biosciences such as anatomy, physiology and molecular biology must be framed, at least implicitly, by the selection histories of the organisms under study. Others have denied this and have proposed non-evolutionary ways in which biologists can frame these investigations. This paper argues that an evolutionary perspective is indeed necessary, but that it must be a forward-looking perspective informed by a general understanding of the evolutionary process, not a backward-looking perspective informed by the specific evolutionary history of the species being studied. Interestingly, it turns out that there are aspects of proximal biology that even a creationist cannot study except in the light of a theory of their effect on future evolution
Keywords Philosophy   Evolutionary Biology   Philosophy of Biology
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DOI 10.1007/s10441-008-9054-9
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References found in this work BETA
The Functional Perspective of Organismal Biology.Arno Wouters - 2005 - In Thomas Reydon & Lia Hemerik (eds.), Current Themes in Theoretical Biology. Springer. pp. 33--69.

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Citations of this work BETA
The Phylogeny Fallacy and the Ontogeny Fallacy.Adam Hochman - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (4):593-612.
Research Traditions and Evolutionary Explanations in Medicine.Pierre-Olivier Méthot - 2011 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 32 (1):75-90.
Organism and Artifact: Proper Functions in Paley Organisms.Sune Holm - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):706-713.

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