Can There be A Priori Causal Models of Natural Selection?

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4):591-599 (2011)
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Abstract

Sober 2011 argues that, contrary to Hume, some causal statements can be known a priori to be true—notably, some ‘would promote’ statements figuring in causal models of natural selection. We find Sober's argument unconvincing. We regard the Humean thesis as denying that causal explanations contain any a priori knowable statements specifying certain features of events to be causally relevant. We argue that not every ‘would promote’ statement is genuinely causal, and we suggest that Sober has not shown that his examples of ‘would promote’ statements manage to achieve a priori status without sacrificing their causal character.

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Author Profiles

Marc Lange
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Alex Rosenberg
Duke University