The changeful fate of a groundbreaking insight: the Darwinian fitness principle caught in different webs of belief
Yearbook for European Culture of Science 2:107-124 (2006)
Darwin’s explanation of biological speciation in terms of variation and natural selection has revolutionised biological thought. However, while his principle of natural selection, the fitness principle, has shaped biology until the present, its interpretation changed more than once during the almost 150 years of its history. The most striking change of the status of the principle is that, in the middle of the 20th century, it transmutated from an often disputed, groundbreaking insight into a tautology. Moreover, not only the interpretation of the fitness principle, but the whole body of biological knowledge was subjected to significant modifications. In this paper, I relate modifications of the fitness principle to those of the respective body of biological knowledge. This body of knowledge is conceived as a Quinean web of belief. After an exposition of Darwin’s conception of the principle, which equated fitness with adaptedness to the environment, several of its changes are analysed with respect to different webs of biological knowledge. It is concluded that the different interpretations and the reshaping of the fitness principle are rational responses to the modified systems of background knowledge, which saved the coherence of the web of biological knowledge in each single case.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Why the Causal View of Fitness Survives.Jun Otsuka, Trin Turner, Colin Allen & Elisabeth Lloyd - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (2):209-224.
The Confusions of Fitness.André Ariew & R. C. Lewontin - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):347-363.
Fitness “Kinematics”: Biological Function, Altruism, and Organism–Environment Development.Marshall Abrams - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):487-504.
Matthen and Ariew's Obituary for Fitness: Reports of its Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated. [REVIEW]Alex Rosenberg & Frederic Bouchard - 2005 - Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):343-353.
Natural Selection Without Survival of the Fittest.C. Kenneth Waters - 1986 - Biology and Philosophy 1 (2):207-225.
A Structural Description of Evolutionary Theory.Robert N. Brandon - 1980 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:427 - 439.
The Non-Existence of a Principle of Natural Selection.Abner Shimony - 1989 - Biology and Philosophy 4 (3):255-273.
Added to index2009-01-31
Total downloads284 ( #10,120 of 2,143,563 )
Recent downloads (6 months)42 ( #5,884 of 2,143,563 )
How can I increase my downloads?
There are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.