SAAP Annual Meeting 2013

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Pragmatism and Biological Thinking in the Evolutionary Philosophy of Chauncey Wright (traditional paper)

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Andrea Parravicini
State University of Milan - Associazione Pragma
Italy

Abstract:
Few modern scholars know that in the second half of the 19th century Chauncey Wright, the “coryphaeus” of the American Pragmatists at the Metaphysical Club, had worked out a very modern interpretation of evolutionary theory which gained him Darwin’s high esteem. Wright’s reflection combined an idea very similar to that of S.J.Gould’s notion of exaptation with an emergentist conception of the evolutionary process, centered on the pre-eminence of the effects rather than the origin of evolutionary novelties. Besides the theoretical interest that Wright’s interpretation of living phenomena plays for today's philosophy of biology, the present paper also aims to emphasize, firstly, that Wright’s Darwinism is absolutely vital to the economy of his general thought, contrary to what some critics think. Secondly, this work sets itself the objective to clarify the role played by Wright’s evolutionary interpretation in order to understand the profound relationship subsisting between Darwinism and pragmatism.

 

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