This paper shows that species are individuals with respect to evolutionary theory in the sense that the laws of the theory deal with species as irreducible wholes rather than as sets of organisms. 'Species X' is an instantiation of a primitive term of the theory. I present a sketch of a proof that it cannot be defined within the theory as a set of organisms; the proof relies not on details of my axiomatization but rather on a generally accepted property (...) of speciation; hence the same argument should work for any axiomatization which captures this generally accepted property of speciation. (shrink)
This paper investigates simple syntactic methods for revising prioritized belief bases, that are semantically meaningful in the frameworks of possibility theory and of Spohn''s ordinal conditional functions. Here, revising prioritized belief bases amounts to conditioning a distribution function on interpretations. The input information leading to the revision of a knowledge base can be sure or uncertain. Different types of scales for priorities are allowed: finite vs. infinite, numerical vs. ordinal. Syntactic revision is envisaged here as a process which transforms a (...) prioritized belief bases into a new prioritized belief base, and thus allows a subsequent iteration. (shrink)
Alchourrón, Gärdenfors and Makinson have developed and investigated a set of rationality postulates which appear to capture much of what is required of any rational system of theory revision. This set of postulates describes a class of revision functions, however it does not provide a constructive way of defining such a function. There are two principal constructions of revision functions, namely an epistemic entrenchment and a system of spheres. We refer to their approach as the AGM paradigm. We provide a (...) new constructive modeling for a revision function based on a nice preorder on models, and furthermore we give explicit conditions under which a nice preorder on models, an epistemic entrenchment, and a system of spheres yield the same revision function. Moreover, we provide an identity which captures the relationship between revision functions and update operators (as defined by Katsuno and Mendelzon). (shrink)
Many philosophers have asserted that evolutionary theory is unfalsifiable. In this paper I refute these assertions by detailing some falsifiable predictions of the theory and the evidence used to test them. I then analyze both these predictions and evidence cited to support assertions of unfalsifiability in order to show both what type of predictions are possible and why it has been so difficult to spot them. The conclusion is that the apparent logical peculiarity of evolutionary theory is not a property (...) of evolutionary theory; it is a property of our human-sized perspective on evolutionary theory. (shrink)
It is clear from the above discussion that if I had wished to do so I could have truthfully presented every paper as either testing a prediction, presenting evidence needed in the test of a prediction, or presentin a D-N explanation. (I would not have been able to do this if I had not been sufficiently familiar with the evolutionary literature to recognize what hypotheses were at stake in several of the papers; even when the authors mention the hypotheses they (...) frequently do so only in enough detail to put their paper in context for the knowledgeable biologist.) Since these biologists are working in a period of normal science under the paradigm of the modern synthetic theory of evolution, none of these papers is presented as a test of the modern synthetic theory; but since this theory was used in the derivation of each prediction, each one is a test of it as well as of the hypothesis mentioned. Thus, once we learn to recognize the predictions beneath their cloaks of invisibility, we discover that prediction testing is not, as philosophers have claimed, at best peripheral to evolutionary biology; it is central to evolutionary biology. (shrink)
A new methodology for developing theories of action has recently emerged which provides means for formally evaluating the correctness of such theories. Yet, for a theory of action to qualify as a solution to the frame problem, not only does it need to produce correct inferences, but moreover, it needs to derive these inferences from a concise representation of the domain at hand. The new methodology however offers no means for assessing conciseness. Such a formal account of conciseness is developed (...) in this paper. Combined with the existing criterion for correctness, our account of conciseness offers a framework where proposed solutions to the frame problem can be formally evaluated. (shrink)
Many philosophers have claimed that the structure of evolutionary theory is intrinsically different from the structure of physical theories. These claims were based on the appearance of the immature structure of the theory. Refutations of these claims have been based on newly available glimpses of the mature structure of the theory. These claims and their refutations show that the relationship between the immature and mature structures of evolutionary theory is dramatically different from this relationship for Newtonian physics. Analysis of the (...) cause of this difference provides insight into significant features of the process of maturation of scientific theories. (shrink)
This paper: (1) gives a schema of the logical structure of functional explanation in biology; (2) shows that it falls under the covering law model of explanation by proving that the explanandum follows from the explanans; and (3) supports the claim that it captures the logical structure underlying the biological usage by analyzing in detail two cases from biology.
Narrative explanations in evolutionary biology have seemed fundamentally different from other scientific explanations, and similar to historical explanations. This investigation of the structure of narrative explanations in evolutionary biology reveals that narrative explanations do have a deductive-nomological base, but that their structure contains two significant additional elements as well. The additional elements are: the multidimensional recursive connection between the different sub-explanations in a narrative explanation; and a set of generic explanations which make possible the integration of multiple co-existing processes.
Ethics in Thucydides uses the historian's account of the resolution at Corcyra as the basis for determining a moral or ethical perspective in Thucydides'History. Various scenes, speeches, and narrative descriptions are analyzed in relation to ethical vocabulary, their conformity to an ethical perspective, and the way in which they promote an ethical outcome. Ethics in Thucydides is ground-breaking because up to this point, scholars have not persuasively argued that ethics played a role in History. Williams' work is an extensive analysis (...) which also considers Thucydides in relation to his predecessors and contemporaries. (shrink)