Some reflections on evolutionary theories, with a classification of fitness

Acta Biotheoretica 39 (2):91-106 (1991)
Using a classical life history model (the Smith & Fretwell model of the evolution of offspring size), it is demonstrated that even in the presence of overwhelming empirical support, the testability of predictions derived from evolutionary models can give no guarantee that the underlying fitness concept is sound. Non-awareness of this problem may cause considerable justified but avoidable criticism. To help understanding the variable use of fitness in evolutionary models and recognizing potentially problematic areas which need careful consideration, a hierarchical classification of definitions of fitness used in evolutionary models is presented. As a conclusion, it is advocated to use the term fitness more conscientiously than currently often practised and to think more about ways to develop fitness-free evolutionary theories compatible with Darwin's ideas.
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DOI 10.1007/BF00046594
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