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Using False Models to Elaborate Constraints on Processes: Blending Inheritance in Organic and Cultural Evolution

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

William C. Wimsatt*
Affiliation:
University of Chicago
*
Send requests for reprints to the author, Department of Philosophy, 1050 E. 59th St., University of Chicago, Chicago, Il., 60637, wwim@midway.uchicago.edu.

Abstract

Scientific models may be more useful for false assumptions they make than true ones when one is interested not in the fit of the model, but in the form of the residuals. Modeling Darwin's (false) “blending” theory of inheritance shows how it illuminates features of Mendelian theory. Insufficient understanding of it leads to incorrect moves in modeling population structure. But it may prove even more useful for organizing a theory of cultural evolution. Analysis of “blending” inheritance gives new tools for recognizing population structure for culture and for understanding differences between biological and cultural inheritance.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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