The Causal Structure of Evolutionary Theory

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3):421-434 (2016)

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ABSTRACTOne contentious debate in the philosophy of biology is that between the statisticalists and causalists. The former understand core evolutionary concepts like fitness and selection to be mere statistical summaries of underlying causal processes. In this view, evolutionary changes cannot be causally explained by selection or fitness. The causalist side, on the other hand, holds that populations can change in response to selection—one can cite fitness differences or driftability in causal explanations of evolutionary change. But, on the causalist side, it is often not clear how, precisely, one should understand these causes. Thus, much more could be said about what sort of causes fitness and driftability are. In this paper, I borrow Dretske's distinction between structuring and triggering causes and I suggest that fitness and driftability are structuring causes of evolution.
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DOI 10.1080/00048402.2015.1111398
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References found in this work BETA

Explaining Behaviour: Reasons in a World of Causes.Fred DRETSKE - 1988 - Philosophical Quarterly 40 (158):95-102.
The Nature of Selection.Elliott Sober - 1986 - Behaviorism 14 (1):77-88.

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Citations of this work BETA

In What Sense Can There Be Evolution by Natural Selection Without Perfect Inheritance?Pierrick Bourrat - 2019 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 32 (1):13-31.

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