Heraclitus, by Hendrick ter Brugghen
Metaphysics isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when someone is thinking about the theory of evolution, especially if that someone is an evolutionary biologist who is reasonably skeptical of any metaphysical claim — like yours truly.
Nonetheless, my Exeter University colleague John Dupré has published a stimulating paper that seeks to apply so-called process metaphysics to modern debates in evolutionary biology (full paper here). The result is intriguing, though that doesn’t mean I’m completely on board with what John writes.
Let’s start with the basics. Dupré defines metaphysics as the branch of philosophy that aspires to provide the most general description of reality. You would think that nowadays that aspiration falls squarely within fundamental physics, except for the fact that fundamental physics — as interesting as it is — is largely irrelevant to most of the other sciences, and “the…
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