Problems for Natural Selection as a Mechanism

Philosophy of Science 78 (3):512-523 (2011)
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Abstract

Skipper and Millstein analyze natural selection and mechanism, concluding that natural selection is not a mechanism in the sense of the new mechanistic philosophy. Barros disagrees and provides his own account of natural selection as a mechanism. This discussion identifies a missing piece of Barros's account, attempts to fill in that piece, and reconsiders the revised account. Two principal objections are developed: one, the account does not characterize natural selection; two, the account is not mechanistic. Extensive and persistent variability causes both of these difficulties, so further attempts to describe natural selection as a mechanism are also unlikely to succeed.

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Joyce C. Havstad
University of Utah

Citations of this work

Natural Kindness.Matthew H. Slater - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):375-411.
Three kinds of new mechanism.Arnon Levy - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):99-114.
Natural selection.Robert Brandon - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
On closing the gap between philosophical concepts and their usage in scientific practice: a lesson from the debate about natural selection as a mechanism.Lucas J. Matthews - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 55:21-28.

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References found in this work

Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
On the origin of species.Charles Darwin - 2008 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Gillian Beer.
Darwin's Dangerous Idea.Daniel Dennett - 1994 - Behavior and Philosophy 24 (2):169-174.
Rethinking mechanistic explanation.Stuart Glennan - 2002 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S342-353.

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