Article ID: CBB160352718

Beyond blindness: On the role of organism and environment in trial generation (2016)


In this paper we aim to amend the traditional analogy at the heart of evolutionary epistemologies. We shall first argue, contrary to what has been frequently done, that both hypothesis generation and the processes of generation of genetic and phenotypic change are often directed as well as environmentally conditioned. Secondly, we shall argue that environmental influence does not affect trial generation directly but that environmental information is processed by the epistemic agent and by the biological organism respectively. Thirdly, we suggest conceiving hypothesis generation as a process of manipulative abduction and the generation of biological variation as a process mediated by phenotypic plasticity. Finally, we argue that manipulative abduction and environmentally-induced biological variation modulated by plasticity are analogous because they both involve a conjectural response to environmental cues. Our analysis thus vindicates a revised version of evolutionary epistemology ascribing a fundamental role to both organism and environment in trial generation. This perspective, in our opinion, offers support to the thesis, inspired by the theory of embodied cognition, that hypothesis generation is sometimes explained by an appeal to phenotypic plasticity.

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Authors & Contributors
Salis, Fiora
Petit, Victor
Dellsén, Finnur
McCain, Kevin
Enrico Cinti
Rice, Collin C.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
Journal for General Philosophy of Science
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Perspectives on Science
Cambridge University Press
Saint Louis University
Prometheus Books
Polity Press
MIT Press
Kluwer Academic
Explanation; hypotheses; theories
Philosophy of science
Methodology of science; scientific method
Models and modeling in science
Stanford, P. Kyle
Popper, Karl Raimund
Newton, Isaac
Manchak, John Byron
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
19th century
17th century
20th century, early
Great Britain
Human Genome Project

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