Darwin was a teleologist

Biology and Philosophy 8 (4):409-421 (1993)
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Abstract

It is often claimed that one of Darwin''s chief accomplishments was to provide biology with a non-teleological explanation of adaptation. A number of Darwin''s closest associates, however, and Darwin himself, did not see it that way. In order to assess whether Darwin''s version of evolutionary theory does or does not employ teleological explanation, two of his botanical studies are examined. The result of this examination is that Darwin sees selection explanations of adaptations as teleological explanations. The confusion in the nineteenth century about Darwin''s attitude to teleology is argued to be a result of Darwin''s teleological explanations not conforming to either of the dominant philosophical justifications of teleology at that time. Darwin''s explanatory practices conform well, however, to recent defenses of the teleological character of selection explanations.

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James G. Lennox
University of Pittsburgh

Citations of this work

Agential Teleosemantics.Tiago Rama - 2022 - Dissertation, Autonomous University of Barcelona
The function debate in philosophy.Arno Wouters - 2005 - Acta Biotheoretica 53 (2):123-151.
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Function and Teleology.Justin Garson - 2008 - In Sahorta Sarkar & Anya Plutynski (eds.), Companion to the Philosophy of Biology. Blackwell. pp. 525-549.
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References found in this work

Four Decades of Scientific Explanation.Wesley C. Salmon & Anne Fagot-Largeault - 1989 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 16 (2):355.
Toward a new philosophy of biology: observations of an evolutionist.Ernst Mayr - 1988 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
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The Triumph of the Darwinian Method.Michael T. Ghiselin - 1969 - University of California Press.
Teleology and the logical structure of function statements.William C. Wimsatt - 1972 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 3 (1):1-80.

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