Darwinism without populations: a more inclusive understanding of the “Survival of the Fittest”

Abstract
Following Wallace’s suggestion, Darwin framed his theory using Spencer’s expression “survival of the fittest”. Since then, fitness occupies a significant place in the conventional understanding of Darwinism, even though the explicit meaning of the term ‘fitness’ is rarely stated. In this paper I examine some of the different roles that fitness has played in the development of the theory. Whereas the meaning of fitness was originally understood in ecological terms, it took a statistical turn in terms of reproductive success throughout the 20th Century. This has lead to the ever-increasing importance of sexually reproducing organisms and the populations they compose in evolutionary explanations. I will argue that, moving forward, evolutionary theory should look back at its ecological roots in order to be more inclusive in the type of systems it examines. Many biological systems (e.g. clonal species, colonial species, multi-species communities) can only be satisfactorily accounted for by offering a non-reproductive account of fitness. This argument will be made by examining biological systems with very small or transient population structures. I argue this has significant consequences for how we define Darwinism, increasing the significance of survival (or persistence) over that of reproduction.
Keywords Darwinism  Persistence  Population  Survival  Reproduction  Fitness  Evolution
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index Translate to english
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 10,337
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
André Ariew & R. C. Lewontin (2004). The Confusions of Fitness. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):347-363.
Henry Byerly (1986). Fitness as a Function. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:494 - 501.
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2011-06-28

Total downloads

24 ( #69,053 of 1,096,610 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #102,815 of 1,096,610 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.