Tempered realism about the force of selection

Philosophy of Science 58 (4):553-573 (1991)
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Abstract

Darwinians are realists about the force of selection, but there has been surprisingly little discussion about what form this realism should take. Arguments about the units of selection in general and genic selectionism in particular reveal two realist assumptions: (1) for any selection process, there is a uniquely correct identification of the operative selective forces and the level at which each impinges; and (2) selective forces must satisfy the Pareto-style requirement of probabilistic causation. I argue that both assumptions are false; we must temper realism about the force of selection and revise the way we think about probabilistic causation.

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C. Kenneth Waters
University of Calgary