Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 675–697

Fighting the good cause: meaning, purpose, difference, and choice


DOI: 10.1007/s10539-014-9432-4

Cite this article as:
Haig, D. Biol Philos (2014) 29: 675. doi:10.1007/s10539-014-9432-4


Concepts of cause, choice, and information are closely related. A cause is a choice that can be held responsible. It is a difference that makes a difference. Information about past causes and their effects is a valuable commodity because it can be used to guide future choices. Information about criteria of choice is generated by choosing a subset from an ensemble for ‘reasons’ and has meaning for an interpreter when it is used to achieve an end. Natural selection evolves interpreters with ends. Surviving genes embody a textual record of past choices that had favorable outcomes. Consultation of these archives guides current choices. Purposive choice is well-informed difference making.


Final causes Formal causes Information Teleology Recursion Selection Choice Difference Text Interpretation 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Organismic and Evolutionary BiologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations