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Modeling Environments: Interactive Causation and Adaptations to Environmental Conditions*

Bruce Glymour
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 78, No. 3 (July 2011), pp. 448-471
DOI: 10.1086/660303
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/660303
Page Count: 24
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Modeling Environments: Interactive Causation and Adaptations to Environmental Conditions*
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Abstract

I argue that a phenotypic trait can be an adaptation to a particular environmental condition, as against others, only if the environmental condition and the phenotype interactively cause fitness. Models of interactive environmental causes of fitness generally require that environments be individuated by explicit representation rather than by measures of environmental quality, although the latter understanding of ‘environment’ is more prominent in the philosophy of biology. Hence, talk of adaptations to some but not other environmental conditions relies on conceptions of ‘environment’ importantly different from that commonly presupposed in philosophy of biology.

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