The strategy of endogenization in evolutionary biology

Samir Okasha*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
338 Downloads (Pure)


Evolutionary biology is striking for its ability to explain a large and diverse range of empirical phenomena on the basis of a few general theoretical principles. This article offers a philosophical perspective on the way that evolutionary biology has come to achieve such impressive generality, by focusing on “the strategy of endogenization”. This strategy involves devising evolutionary explanations for biological features that were originally part of the background conditions, or scaffolding, against which such explanations take place. Where successful, the strategy moves biology a step closer to the ideal of explaining as much as possible from evolutionary first principles. The strategy of endogenization is illustrated through a series of biological examples, historical and recent, and its philosophical implications are explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Early online date6 Jun 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jun 2018


  • Evolutionary biology
  • Reductionism
  • First principles
  • Strategy of endogenization


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