Entangled Life pp 105-126 | Cite as

Adaptation, Adaptation to, and Interactive Causes

  • Bruce GlymourEmail author
Part of the History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences book series (HPTL, volume 4)


This paper develops alternative ways of understanding ‘adaptation to’ specific environmental conditions, with particular attention to the explanatory power offered by differing conceptions, the concomitant epistemic demands they make of explanations, and the models such explanations employ. It is shown that explanations of adaptation to particular environmental conditions can satisfy important intuitions only if the environmental conditions to which phenotypes are adapted are interactive causes of fitness. However, taking this constraint to be both necessary and sufficient for ‘adaptation to’ imposes epistemic burdens on our explanatory practice, and risks violating yet other intuitions. The paper briefly explores the consequences of the constraint for the idea that selection requires shared environments, the idea that selection requires a homogeneous environment, the idea that phenotypes may be extended, and the idea that niches may be constructed.


Reproductive Success Relative Fitness Causal Condition Causal Influence Selection Gradient 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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