Biology and Philosophy 33 (1-2):11 (2018)

Abstract
Causalism is the thesis that natural selection can cause evolution. A standard argument for causalism involves showing that a hypothetical intervention on some population-level property that is identified with natural selection will result in evolution. In a pair of articles, one of which recently appeared in the pages of this journal, Jun Otsuka has put forward a quite different argument for causalism. Otsuka attempts to show that natural selection can cause evolution by considering a hypothetical intervention on an individual-level property. Specifically, Otsuka identifies natural selection with the causal relationship between a trait and fitness, claims an intervention on the strength of this relationship can cause evolution, then concludes that natural selection can cause evolution. Below I describe why Otsuka’s argument for causalism is unconvincing. Central to my criticism is that Otsuka’s argument works only if one adopts an indefensible account of natural selection, according to which natural selection can occur in the absence of trait or fitness variation. I go on to explain why any attempt to demonstrate the truth of causalism via a hypothetical intervention on an individual-level property would appear to require one to adopt an account of natural selection that is inadequate for the same reason. This in turn means the plausibility of causalism does indeed depend on the plausibility of the claim that population-level properties, which supervene on the properties of the individuals in the population, can be causally efficacious.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s10539-018-9620-8
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,979
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.
Making Things Happen. A Theory of Causal Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):233-249.

View all 33 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Natural Selection and Causal Productivity.Roberta L. Millstein - 2013 - In Hsiang-Ke Chao, Szu-Ting Chen & Roberta L. Millstein (eds.), Mechanism and Causality in Biology and Economics,. Springer.
Natural Selection as a Population-Level Causal Process.Roberta L. Millstein - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (4):627-653.
Driftability.Grant Ramsey - 2013 - Synthese 190 (17):3909-3928.
Productivity, Relevance and Natural Selection.Stuart Glennan - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (3):325-339.
Can Cumulative Selection Explain Adaptation?Bence Nanay - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1099-1112.
Altruism, Group Selection and Correlated Interaction.Samir Okasha - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (4):703-725.
What is This Stuff Called Fitness?J. G. Ollason - 1991 - Biology and Philosophy 6 (1):81-92.
Making the Most of Clade Selection.W. Ford Doolittle - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (2):275-295.
Formal Darwinism: Some Questions.Sahotra Sarkar - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (2):249-257.
Coadaptation and the Inadequacy of Natural Selection.Mark Ridley - 1982 - British Journal for the History of Science 15 (1):45-68.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2018-04-02

Total views
27 ( #422,825 of 2,504,869 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #277,627 of 2,504,869 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes