Biological adaptation

Philosophy of Science 38 (2):200-215 (1971)
In this paper I attempt to show that adaptational sentences (i.e. sentences containing the terms "adaptive", "adapted", etc.) in evolutionary biology are best interpreted as equivalent to sentences about Darwinian or genetical selection. Thus, the use of adaptational languages does not introduce final purposes or other nonempirical notions into biology. I also try to demonstrate that adaptational sentences and functional sentences are not equivalent in an evolutionary context so that an analysis of function does not dispense with the need for an analysis of adaptation. Finally, it is argued that, although some adaptational sentences might be construed as teleological explanations, given an empirical content, they do not serve as explanations. Rather, they express the outcome of selection, regarded in one way, and regarded in another, they express data for which a theory of evolution must account
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DOI 10.1086/288354
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Adaptation and Evolutionary Theory.Robert N. Brandon - 1978 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 9 (3):181-206.
Biological Teleology: Questions and Explanations.Robert N. Brandon - 1981 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 12 (2):91-105.
Adaptation and Fitness.Margaret Campbell - 1983 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 14 (1):59-65.

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