Images of Development: Environmental Causes in Ontogeny by Cornelia Neeltju van der Weele

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By Cornelia Neeltju van der Weele

Pictures of improvement questions the dominant organic strategy of explaining animal improvement as fullyyt genetic through exploring the explanatory worth of investigating environmental impacts. Van der Weele discusses assumptions, explanatory styles, and conceptual instruments in developmental and evolutionary biology and stories many concrete examples of environmental impact in animal improvement. She offers views from biology, philosophy of technological know-how, and ethics in an integrative approach.

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This partly explains why monadic predicates are so persis­ tent: they make the world look more simple. Hempel and Oppenheim's (1 936) Der TypusbegriJf im Lichte der Neuen Logik focused attention on some philosophically and practi­ cally important reasons for replacing monadic predicates by relations. " This gives unavoidable trouble in cases where differences are gradual (such as when Mary is taller than John, who is in turn taller than Paul) . In such cases, concepts are needed that can generate gradual orderings.

When the subject of explanation is not a difference, but a trait, for example, relations can be introduced in a different way: by describing the process or mechanisms involved. Since the cause of a trait cannot be an entity, but must always be a complex process in which different entities play roles, a developmental outcome is caused by a network of interacting entities and processes. This network is extremely complex, and in studying it one will have to focus on particular parts of it, keeping other things constant.

In Hempel and Oppenheim's account of explanation ( 1 948) , further defended and developed by Hempel (1 962, 1965 ) , an explanation is an argument. The explanandum (the item to be explained) is the conclusion of the argument, while the premises comprise the explanans; they consist of one or more gen­ eral laws and the initial conditions. Hempel distinguished between deductive-nomological explanation, in which the conclusion is in­ ferred with certainty, and probabilistic explanation, which makes the conclusion probable in some degree.

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