A critical review of the statisticalist debate

Biology and Philosophy 31 (4):459-482 (2016)
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Over the past decade philosophers of biology have discussed whether evolutionary theory is a causal theory or a phenomenological study of evolution based solely on the statistical features of a population. This article reviews this controversy from three aspects, respectively concerning the assumptions, applications, and explanations of evolutionary theory, with a view to arriving at a definite conclusion in each contention. In so doing I also argue that an implicit methodological assumption shared by both sides of the debate, namely the overconfidence in conceptual analysis as a tool to understand the scientific theory, is the real culprit that has both generated the problem and precluded its solution for such a long time.



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Jun Otsuka
Kyoto University

Citations of this work

Facts, Conventions, and the Levels of Selection.Pierrick Bourrat - 2021 - Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Units and levels of selection.Elisabeth Lloyd - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Are There Really Social Causes?August Faller - 2023 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 53 (2):83-102.
Natural selection and the reference grain problem.Pierrick Bourrat - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 80:1-8.
Fitness: static or dynamic?Peter Takacs & Pierrick Bourrat - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (4):1-20.

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References found in this work

Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.
Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.

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