Explanatory pluralism in evolutionary biology

Biology and Philosophy 11 (2):193-214 (1996)

Abstract

The ontological dependence of one domain on another is compatible with the explanatory autonomy of the less basic domain. That autonomy results from the fact that the relationship between two domains can be very complex. In this paper I distinguish two different types of complexity, two ways the relationship between domains can fail to be transparent, both of which are relevant to evolutionary biology. Sometimes high level explanations preserve a certain type of causal or counterfactual information which would be lost at the lower level; I argue that this is central to the proper understanding of the adaptationist program. Sometimes high level kinds are multiply realised by lower level kinds: I argue that this is central to the understanding of macroevolution.

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2009-01-28

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Kim Sterelny
Australian National University

Citations of this work

Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation.Stuart Glennan - 2002 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S342-353.
The Ontic Account of Scientific Explanation.Carl F. Craver - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver R. Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the Special Sciences: The Case of Biology and History. Springer Verlag. pp. 27-52.
Rethinking Mechanistic Explanation.Stuart Glennan - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (S3):S342-S353.
Mathematical Explanations Of Empirical Facts, And Mathematical Realism.Aidan Lyon - 2012 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3):559-578.
Sensitive and Insensitive Causation.James Woodward - 2006 - Philosophical Review 115 (1):1-50.

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