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Reciprocal causation and the proximate-ultimate distinction

Dickins, T.; Barton, RA.


T. Dickins


Laland and colleagues have sought to challenge the proximate–ultimate distinction claiming that it imposes a unidirectional model of causation, is limited in its capacity to account for complex biological phenomena, and hinders progress in biology. In this article the core of their argument is critically analyzed. It is claimed that contrary to their claims Laland et al. rely upon the proximate–ultimate distinction to make their points and that their alternative conception of reciprocal causation refers to phenomena that were already accounted for by standard theory.


Dickins, T., & Barton, R. (2013). Reciprocal causation and the proximate-ultimate distinction. Biology and Philosophy, 28(5), 747-756.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2013
Deposit Date Sep 7, 2012
Journal Biology and Philosophy
Print ISSN 0169-3867
Electronic ISSN 1572-8404
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 5
Pages 747-756
Keywords Proximate cause, Ultimate cause, Reciprocal causation.