Making Populations: Bounding Genes in Space and in Time

Philosophy of Science 70 (5):989-1001 (2003)
Abstract
The paper argues that, at least below the species level, biological populations are not mind-independent objects that are discovered by scientists. Rather, biological populations are pragmatically constituted as objects of investigation according to the aims, interests, and values that inform specific research contexts. Biological populations are defined on the basis of relations among organisms such as breeding, genealogy, and competition. Although these relations are objective, the kind and the degree of relations that are privileged depend on the context of investigation. Although the groups delineated are statistically defined open-ended biological systems, they are rendered as discrete units in order to fulfil various theoretical and practical aims.
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