Inspired by Woodward’s account of causation and explanation and Sober’s conception of the theory of natural selection as a theory of forces, Caponi has recently defended that biology – and, especially, evolutionary biology – is grounded on a “mosaic of invariants”, that is, a net of causal regularities which, although not stable and universal enough to constitute genuine causal laws, may guarantee the explanatory autonomy of this discipline by supporting a number of relevant counterfactuals. In spite of lacking proper causal laws, evolutionary biology is a unitary theory because invariants are, in some sense, unified by other kinds of laws – the zero force laws, like the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, and the consequence laws, like the laws of population genetics –, which connect them within a more general theoretical framework. Might the explanatory structure of a hypothetical unified theory of cultural evolution be conceived in a similar way? The goal of my talk is to explore such possibility.
Lorenzo is currently Assistant Professor of Epistemology at the Federal University of ABC (São Paulo, Brazil) and Researcher at the Institute of Advanced Studies of the University of São Paulo. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy from the University of Turin (2005) and PhD degree in Philosophy from the University Rovira i Virgili of Terragona (2010), obtained after having followed a postgraduate interdisciplinary programme in Cognitive Science and Language at the University of Barcelona. From 2011 to 2013 he was postdoctoral fellow at the University of São Paulo. His research interests are in Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology and Cultural Evolution.