Sewall Wright and Gustave malécot on isolation by distance

Philosophy of Science 76 (5):784-796 (2009)
Sewall Wright and Gustave Malécot developed important theories of isolation by distance. Wright’s theory was statistical and Malécot’s probabilistic. Because of this mathematical difference, they were not clear about the relationship between their theories. In this paper, I make two points to clarify this relationship. First, I argue that Wright’s theory concerns what I call ecological isolation by distance , whereas Malécot’s concerns what I call genetic isolation by distance . Second, I suggest that if Wright’s theory is interpreted appropriately, a previously unnoticed connection between the two theories emerges. †To contact the author, please write to: Yoichi Ishida, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, 1017 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; e‐mail:
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