The Retorsive Argument for Formal Cause and the Darwinian Account of Scientific Knowledge

Contemporary biologists generally agree with E. O. Wilson’s claim that “reduction is the traditional instrument of scientific analysis.” This is certainly true of Michael Ruse, who has attempted to provide a Darwinian account of human scientific knowledge in terms of epigenetic rules. Such an account depends on the characterization of natural objects as the chance concatenations of material elements, making natural form an effect rather than a cause of the object. This characterization, however, can be shown to be false in that it is self-refuting in its exclusion of formal cause. The retorsive argument for formal cause dialectically shows that any attempt to explain a natural object depends on the identification of form as the cause of the intelligibility of the object. It follows that Darwinian explanations of the products of human culture, such as science, cannot consistently treat form as an effect rather than a cause
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0019-0365
DOI 10.5840/ipq20034323
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