Are probabilities necessary for evolutionary explanations?

Biology and Philosophy 13 (2):245-253 (1998)
Several philosophers of science have advanced an instrumentalist thesis about the use of probabilities in evolutionary biology. I investigate the consequences of instrumentalism on evolutionary explanations. I take issue with Barbara Horan's (1994) argument that probabilities are unnecessary to explain evolutionary change given the underlying deterministic character of evolutionary processes. First, I question Horan's deterministic assumption. Then, I attempt to undermine her Laplacian argument by demonstrating that whether probabilities are necessary depends upon the sort of questions one is asking.
Keywords evolutionary theory  LaPlacian determinism  parsimony  probabilistic explanations  statistics
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DOI 10.1023/A:1006595706470
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