Exchange with Fodor on Darwinism, University of Maryland, College Park, November 8th 2007

On November 7th and 8th, Jerry Fodor gave a series of lectures entitled “Against Darwinism” at the University of Maryland.  The text upon which the lectures were based can be found at:

I attended the lectures and had a few exchanges with Fodor during the discussion.  What follows is a transcript of our exchange on November 8th.  It gets a bit repetitive, so I’ll summarise:  Fodor argued that natural selection explanations are not causal; rather, they are historical.  I claim that there are non-causal explanations that are nevertheless non-historical (they appeal to general principles rather than only particular events).  My evidence for this is the ability of Darwinist explanations to render certain data non-mysterious, even if they do not do so by providing a causal explanation (in Fodor’s sense).

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