Evolution, Knowledge, and Reality: A Defence of Non-Adaptationist Evolutionary Epistemology.
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How does our evolutionary history concretely affect our image of the world? How does evolution constrain our knowledge of the world and shape our place in it? Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to these questions. For, there are at least two different ways to interpret cognitive and organic evolution which, in turn, give rise to as many different evolutionary epistemologies (EEs). Accordingly, the answer to the aforementioned questions will essentially depend on the informed choice of a certain evolutionary epistemology and, hence, of a specific evolutionary theory. In this thesis, I analyse two evolutionary epistemological standpoints - adaptationist and non-adaptationist EE - and discuss the reasons why we should prefer one over the other. After demonstrating the virtues of an evolutionarily informed epistemology and presenting the protagonists of the adaptationist/non-adaptationist debate, I consider two crucial situations where non-adaptationist approaches have the upper hand over adaptationist ones. In the last part of the thesis, I finally come to strengthen the tenability of non-adaptationist EE by discussing two possible critiques against it and demonstrating that they leave it substantially untouched. In conclusion, I argue, we have good reasons for answering the abovementioned questions by appealing to a non-adaptationist evolutionary epistemological point of view. This, as I show, does not only have some epistemological implications, but also some fundamental metaphysical ones.