Article/Publication Details

[Evolutionary Argument and the Realism Dispute

(Original title: Evoluční argument a spor o realismus)
Organon F, 2013, vol. 20, Supplementary Issue 1, pp. 44-63.
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The Evolutionary Argument (EA) plays the central role in the realism- antirealism dispute. Proponents of this argument maintain that evolutionary theory pro- vides a convincing evidence for the reliability of our cognitive capacities. The evolutio- nary function of these capacities is to inform us about the character of our environment; and, as evidenced by the survival of our species, we can surmise that our cognitive capac- ities tend to provide a true, rather than false, picture of the world (cf., e.g., Quine, Kornblith, Munz). However, opponents of this view argue that evolutionary processes are not exclusively adaptive or optimal; indeed, some processes may not be adaptive at all (cf., e.g., Putnam, van Fraassen, Stich, and Bradie). Some of these critics, e.g., Thomson, believe that evolutionary theory demonstrates that our knowledge is not true, and that our cognitive capacities are not only fallible but completely unreliable. They produce only one of the many possible pictures of the world. I criticize this type of argument by means of a non-adaptationist interpretation of evolutionary theory (Wuketits), and I am seeking an evolutionary way out.


Adaptation, beliefs, evolutionary argument, evolutionary epistemology, realism, truth

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