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Why you have one trait rather than another: The failure of the explanatory-chain stragegy

Helgeson, Casey (2012) Why you have one trait rather than another: The failure of the explanatory-chain stragegy. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In The Nature of Selection (1984), Sober argued that natural selection is in principle powerless to explain why any individual organism has the traits it does rather than the very same individual having different traits. A debate ensued, in which critics have argued against Sober by laying explanations end-to-end, to form a chain of explanation that begins with selection and passes through one or more intermediate events before reaching the target explanandum. I argue that Sober’s critics misunderstand how contrastive explananda (why p rather than q) behave in such explanatory chains, and that this strategy has so far failed.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Helgeson, Casey0000-0001-5333-9954
Keywords: natural selection, contrastive explanation, traits of individuals
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Casey Helgeson
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2020 02:02
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2020 02:02
Item ID: 17017
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Explanation
Date: December 2012
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17017

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