Article ID: CBB000831719

Consequence Etiology and Biological Teleology in Aristotle and Darwin (2008)


Aristotle's biological teleology is rooted in an epigenetic account of reproduction. As such, it is best interpreted by consequence etiology. I support this claim by citing the capacity of consequence etiology's key distinctions to explain Aristotle's opposition to Empedocles. There are implications for the relation between ancient and modern biology. The analysis reveals that in an important respect Darwin's account of adaptation is closer to Aristotle's than to Empedocles's. They both rely on consequence etiological considerations to evade attributing the purposiveness of organisms to chance. Two implications follow: (l) Darwinian explanations of adaptation are as teleological as Aristotle's, albeit differently; and (2) these differences show how deeply resistant Aristotle's version of biological teleology is to descent from a common ancestor.

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Authors & Contributors
Huneman, Philippe
England, Richard K.
Short, T. L.
Grene, Marjorie Glicksman
Walsh, D. M.
McLaughlin, Peter
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Biology and Philosophy
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Biological Theory
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Oxford University Press
Columbia University Press
Princeton University Press
University of California, Los Angeles
Adaptation (biology)
Natural selection
Darwin, Charles Robert
Empedocles of Agrigentum
Cuvier, Georges
Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Étienne
19th century
18th century
20th century
10th century
Oxford University

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