Darwin's rehabilitation of teleology versus Williams' replacement of teleology by natural selection

H. Smit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Williams argued that darwin replaced teleology by natural selection. This article argues that this idea is based on a misunderstanding of darwin’s critique of the argument from design. Darwin did not replace teleology by evolutionary explanations but showed that we can understand teleology without referring to a designer. He eliminated the concept of design and rehabilitated aristotelian teleological explanations. The implication is that adaptations should not be investigated as if designed, but with the help of both teleological and evolutionary explanations. It is argued that elaborations of teleological explanations enable us to reconcile evolutionary theory and other fields in science.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-365
JournalBiological Theory
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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