Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 271–279 | Cite as

Formal Darwinism as a tool for understanding the status of organisms in evolutionary biology

  • P. HunemanEmail author


This paper uses the framework of Formal Darwinism (FD) to evaluate organism-centric critiques of the Modern Synthesis (MS). The first section argues that the FD project reconciles two kinds of selective explanations in biology. Thus it is not correct to say that the MS neglects organisms—instead, it explains organisms’ design, as argued in the second section. In the third section I employ a concept of the organism derived from Kant that has two aspects: the parts presupposing the whole, and the productivity of the parts in relation to the whole. The first aspect corresponds to the “design” that FD explains, whereas the second aspect is something about which the MS is largely silent.


Natural selection Optimization Organism Constraints Design Modern synthesis 



The author warmly thanks an anonymous reviewer, and Samir Okasha, who provided invaluable constructive comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut d’Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques (CNRS / Université Paris I Sorbonne)ParisFrance

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