One of the most important lessons we take from George C. Williams is that big problems do not demand big explanations, and that simplicity is not superficiality but merely where complexity ends up when you get to the end of the inductive trail.
Of all the debates within and
without evolution to which he usefully contributed, the most obvious
being those surrounding the proper place and significance of group,
individual and kin selection, and the automatic assumption of 'plan and
purpose' that can lead to the misattribution of some examples of
beneficiality as selected adaptation, it is the wider issue of
'reductionism' into which these other issues feed that I suspect has the
most value to philosophical analysis.
How strange that
'reductionist' was - and perhaps still is - bandied about in some
biological quarters as a kind of insult, indicative not of philosophical
or analytical rigour but as evidence of a kind of intellectual
short-cutting, an unearned simplicity.
This, I believe, is antithetical to the truth of the matter.