The Metaphysics of Evolution
© 2017 The Authors. Open access. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
This paper briefly describes process metaphysics, and argues that it is better suited for describing life than the more standard thing, or substance, metaphysics. It then explores the implications of process metaphysics for conceptualising evolution. After explaining what it is for an organism to be a process, the paper takes up the Hull/Ghiselin thesis of species as individuals and explores the conditions under which a species or lineage could constitute an individual process. It is argued that only sexual species satisfy these conditions, and that within sexual species the degree of organisation varies. This, in turn, has important implications for the species’ evolvability. One important moral is that evolution will work differently in different biological domains.
The research leading to this article has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement 324186.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the Royal Society via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 7 (5), article 20160148