Thesis ID: CBB001561699

Random Drift: Chance and Explanation in Evolutionary Biology (2006)


Goldstein, Adam (Author)

Johns Hopkins University
Achinstein, Peter

Publication Date: 2006
Edition Details: Advisor: Achinstein, Peter
Physical Details: 309 pp.
Language: English

The central claim for which I argue in this dissertation is that there are important phenomena that occur by random drift that evolutionary biologists explain using a strategy I term 'process explanation.' This claim puts me at odds with an influential view about the nature of explanation that I term 'Hempelianism.' Hempelianism is the view that the scientific explanation of a particular event _E_ requires (a) showing that _ E_ was to be expected, or indicating the degree to which it would have been rational to expect _E_'s occurrence; and (b) laws of nature. My central claim entails that both (a) and (b) are false. A process explanation consists of a narrative describing events causally relevant to the event to be explained. These narratives need not contain laws, show that the event to explained ought to have been expected, or indicate the degree to which it would have been rational to expect the event. My position about random drift also puts me at odds with evolutionists who, influenced by Hempelianism, claim that only natural selection can explain evolution. In my argument, I articulate the strategy of process explanation and defend it against Hempelian critics; describe a mechanism of random drift known as 'indiscriminate sampling;' and describe process explanations of phenomena of drift that occur by indiscriminate sampling.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 67/04 (2006): 1368. UMI pub. no. 3213711.

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Authors & Contributors
Kourany, Janet A.
Wimsatt, William C.
Hacking, Ian
Keller, Evelyn Fox
Kolchinskii, Eduard I.
Kleiner, Scott A.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Biology and Philosophy
Philosophy of Science
Borei Art
Princeton University Press
University of Calgary (Canada)
University of Chicago Press
Philosophy of biology
Explanation; hypotheses; theories
Levins, Richard
Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Antoine Pierre de Monet de
Darwin, Charles Robert
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
20th century, late
20th century, early
21st century

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