Evolution: Teleology or chance? [Book Review]

Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 22 (1):133-141 (1991)
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Abstract

Revaluation of the problem of natural teleology seems an important precondition for elucidating our environmental crisis and for formulating an 'econological ethics', because it calls for a recognition of an intrinsic value in nature and organisms. Therefore, it is necessary to show that the concept of natural teleology is not in contradiction with scientific theories, in particular not with the theory of evolution. In this paper I shall argue that there is a fundamental misunderstanding about the concepts of teleology and chance in modern thinking. This as a result of a radical transformation of the Aristotelian concept of teleology by Christian theologians during the Middle Ages. This confusion resulted in the rejection of teleology from evolution and in an exaggeration of the role of chance. However, not a solution for the problem of teleology is given here, but only an attempt to prove that neither the fossil-record, nor the role of chance in evolution can give adequate arguments for the negation of teleology in evolution. That is not to say that, therefore there exists teleology in evolution, but the problem of teleology in nature cannot, be solved by the scientific theory of evolution, but only be elucidated by philosophical analysis. At the end of the paper it is argued that teleology must be rather presupposed in evolution

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