PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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On mechanistic reasoning in unexpected places: the case of population genetics

The scope of the new philosophy of mechanisms across the sciences remains unclear. This paper addresses this challenge of scope in a field of biology that is inherently non-mechanistic: population genetics. I argue that although the field of population genetics is indeed non-mechanistic, both mechanistic and population genetic methods are integrated in practice. In building a case for evolutionary hypotheses, that is, biologists use both population-genetic, statistical approaches as well as mechanistic interventions. The upshot is a perspective of the scope of mechanistic reasoning across the sciences and evidence for a bridge that gaps two dissonant explanatory approaches to evolution.

Author Information:

Lucas Matthews    
University of Virginia


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