Pluralism, antirealism, and the units of selection

Acta Biotheoretica 45 (2):117-126 (1997)
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Abstract

In an important article, Kim Sterelny and Philip Kitcher challenge the common assumption that for any biological phenomenon requiring a selectionist explanation, it is possible to identify a uniquely correct account of the relevant selection process. They argue that selection events can be modeled in any of a number of different, equally correct ways. They call their view ' Pluralism,' and explicitly connect it with various antirealist positions in the philosophy of science. I critically evaluate Sterelny and Kitcher's Pluralism along with its attendant antirealist theses. In particular, I argue that there are serious problems with their pluralistic antirealism regarding units of selection. By correctly diagnosing these problems a more adequate position can be constructed. I defend such a position, which I designate Inclusive Hierarchical Monism, and show how it captures the important virtues of Sterelny and Kitcher's approach while avoiding its problems

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Timothy Shanahan
Loyola Marymount University

Citations of this work

Units and levels of selection.Elisabeth Lloyd - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Why the Gene will not return.Elisabeth A. Lloyd - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (2):287-310.
Shifting values partly explain the debate over group selection.Ayelet Shavit - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 35 (4):697-720.

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