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In what sense does 'nothing make sense except in the light of evolution'?

Griffiths, Paul Edmund (2008) In what sense does 'nothing make sense except in the light of evolution'? [Preprint]

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    Abstract

    Dobzhansky argued that biology only makes sense if life on earth has a shared history. But his dictum is often reinterpreted to mean that biology only makes sense in the light of adaptation. Some philosophers of science have argued in this spirit that all work in ‘proximal’ biosciences such as anatomy, physiology and molecular biology must be framed, at least implicitly, by the selection histories of the organisms under study. Others have denied this and have proposed non-evolutionary ways in which biologists can frame these investigations. This paper argues that an evolutionary perspective is indeed necessary, but that it must be a forward-looking perspective informed by a general understanding of the evolutionary process, not a backward-looking perspective informed by the specific evolutionary history of the species being studied. Interestingly, it turns out that there are aspects of proximal biology that even a creationist cannot study except in the light of a theory of their effect on future evolution


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    Item Type: Preprint
    Keywords: function teleology homology analogy character individuation adaptive thinking evolution
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
    Specific Sciences > Biology
    Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
    Depositing User: Paul Edmund Griffiths
    Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2008
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:16
    Item ID: 3949
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/3949

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