Repository URL:
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/2331
Author(s):
Jason M. Byron (formerly Baker)
artifact description
Recent discussion of mechanism has suggested new approaches to several issues in the philosophy of science, including theory structure, causal explanation, and reductionism. Here, I apply what I take to be the fruits of the "new mechanical philosophy" to an analysis of a contemporary debate in evolutionary biology about the role of natural selection in speciation. Traditional accounts of that debate focus on the geographic context of genetic divergence--namely, whether divergence in the absence of geographic isolation is possible (or significant). Those accounts are at best incomplete, I argue, because they ignore the mechanisms producing divergence and miss what is at stake in the biological debate. I argue that the biological debate instead concerns the scope of particular speciation mechanisms which assign different roles to natural selection at various stages of divergence. The upshot is a new interpretation of the crux of that debate--namely, whether divergence with gene flow is possible (or significant) and whether the isolating mechanisms producing it are adaptive.

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