Adaptationism and trait individuation

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Adaptationism is often taken to be the thesis that most traits are adaptations. To assess this thesis, it seems we must be able to establish either an exhaustive set of all traits or a representative sample of this set. Either task requires a more systematic and principled way of individuating traits than is currently available. Moreover, different trait individuation criteria can make adaptationism turn out true or false. For instance, individuation based on natural selection may render adaptationism true, but may do so by presupposing adaptationism. In this article, we show how adaptationism depends on trait individuation and that the latter is an open and unsolved problem.

Journal details

Volume 90
Issue number 5
Pages 1234-1243
Available online
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