Natural Selection Explanation and Origin Essentialism

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (2):201-220 (2001)
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Abstract

Does natural selection explain why individual organisms have the traits that they do? According to "the Negative View," natural selection does not explain why any individual organism has the traits that it does. According to "the Positive View," natural selection at least sometimes does explain why an individual organism has the traits that it does. In this paper, I argue that recent arguments for the Positive View fail in virtue of running afoul of the doctrine of origin essentialism and I demonstrate that other recent defenses of the Negative View depend upon my own for their plausibility.

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Joel Pust
University of Delaware

Citations of this work

Probabilistic causation and the explanatory role of natural selection.Pablo Razeto-Barry & Ramiro Frick - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (3):344-355.
Population thinking as trope nominalism.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Synthese 177 (1):91 - 109.
The Negative View of Natural Selection.Jonathan Birch - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (2):569-573.

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References found in this work

Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Philosophy 56 (217):431-433.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Functional analysis.Robert E. Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Explaining Behaviour: Reasons in a World of Causes.Andy Clark - 1990 - Philosophical Quarterly 40 (158):95-102.

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