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Fitness Made Physical: The Supervenience of Biological Concepts Revisited

Marcel Weber
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 63, No. 3 (Sep., 1996), pp. 411-431
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/188103
Page Count: 21
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Fitness Made Physical: The Supervenience of Biological Concepts Revisited
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Abstract

The supervenience and multiple realizability of biological properties have been invoked to support a disunified picture of the biological sciences. I argue that supervenience does not capture the relation between fitness and an organism's physical properties. The actual relation is one of causal dependence and is, therefore, amenable to causal explanation. A case from optimality theory is presented and interpreted as a microreductive explanation of fitness difference. Such microreductions can have considerable scope. Implications are discussed for reductive physicalism in evolutionary biology and for the unity of science.

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