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Reciprocal Causation and Biological Practice

Hazelwood, Caleb (2023) Reciprocal Causation and Biological Practice. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Arguments for an extended evolutionary synthesis often center on the concept of “reciprocal causation.” Proponents argue that reciprocal causation is superior to standard models of evolutionary causation for at least two reasons. First, it leads to better scientific models with more predictive power. Second, it more accurately represents the causal structure of the biological world. Simply put, proponents of an extended evolutionary synthesis argue that reciprocal causation is empirically and explanatorily apt relative to competing causal frameworks. In this paper, I present quantitative survey data from faculty members in biology departments at universities across the United States to evaluate this claim. The survey data indicate that a majority of the participants do not agree that the concept of reciprocal causation confers a larger advantage on research practices. However, a majority of the participants agree that the causal framework of the extended evolutionary synthesis more accurately represents the structure of the biological world. These results demonstrate that the explanatory merits of a conceptual framework and its practical utility can come apart in interesting and informative ways.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Hazelwood, Calebcaleb.hazelwood@duke.edu0000-0002-7421-3581
Keywords: Extended Evolutionary Synthesis; EES; reciprocal causation; niche construction; natural selection; phenotypic plasticity; experimental philosophy; x-phi
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Caleb Hazelwood
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2023 14:36
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2023 14:36
Item ID: 21685
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 2023
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21685

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