Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Interesting debate between philosophers of biological science

There's an interesting debate going on in the comments section of a critique of Fodor's and Piatelli-Palmarini's new book on evolution and natural selection. It takes place among some other philosophers of science, some of whom are defending Fodor's Piatelli-Palmarini's work and other criticizing it.

Part of the debate touches on old debates between those who think that evolution is primarily driven by filters like genetic drift, and chemical and physical laws and those evolutionary theorists who posit that natural selection is the primary filter. This has been fiercely debated for over 40 years and there is no consensus yet.

I think philosophers have a lot to contribute here because I think ultimately it will be largely settled on conceptual reconfigurations and clarification. Fodor and Piatelli-Palmarini seem to also levy much more broadly philosophical skeptical criticisms at natural selection which doesn't seem to be successful as the article and some of the posters in the comments section point out.