Explaining evolutionary innovations and novelties: Criteria of explanatory adequacy and epistemological prerequisites

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Abstract

It is a common complaint that antireductionist arguments are primarily negative. Here I describe an alternative nonreductionist epistemology based on considerations taken from multidisciplinary research in biology. The core of this framework consists in seeing investigation as coordinated around sets of problems (problem agendas) that have associated criteria of explanatory adequacy. These ideas are developed in a case study, the explanation of evolutionary innovations and novelties, which demonstrates the applicability and fruitfulness of this nonreductionist epistemological perspective. This account also bears on questions of conceptual change and theory structure in philosophy of science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)874-886
Number of pages13
JournalPhilosophy of Science
Volume75
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

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