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Kairos. Journal of Philosophy & Science

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Pluralism, Pragmatism and Functional Explanations

Jamie Shaw
Published Online: 2016-04-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/kjps-2016-0001


While many philosophers speak of ‘pluralism’ within philosophy of biology, there has been little said about what such pluralism amounts to or what its underlying assumptions are. This has provoked so me anxiety about whether pluralism is compatible with their commitment to naturalism (Cussins 1992). This paper surveys three prominent pluralist positions (Sandra Mitchell and Michael Dietrich’s (2006) ‘integrative pluralism’, and both Peter Godfrey-Smith’s (1993) and Beth Preston’s (1998) pluralist analyses of functional explanations in evolutionary biology) and demonstrates how all three are committed to a form of pragmatism. This analysis both clarifies the justification and grounding of pluralism and allows these pluralisms to avoid the criticisms of Cussins. I close by making some more general points about pluralism and its relationship to history and integration.

Keywords: pluralism; philosophy of biology; pragmatism; naturalism; functional explanations


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-04-30

Published in Print: 2016-04-01

Citation Information: Kairos. Journal of Philosophy & Science, Volume 15, Issue 1, Pages 1–18, ISSN (Online) 1647-659X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/kjps-2016-0001.

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© 2016 Jamie Shaw, published by De Gruyter Open. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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