The natures of selection

Elliott Sober and his defenders think of selection, drift, mutation, and migration as distinct evolutionary forces. This paper exposes an ambiguity in Sober's account of the force of selection: sometimes he appears to equate the force of selection with variation in fitness, sometimes with ‘selection for properties’. Sober's own account of fitness as a property analogous to life-expectancy shows how the two conceptions come apart. Cases where there is selection against variance in offspring number also show that selection and drift cannot be distinguished in the way Sober hopes for. These issues have significance beyond the parochial matter of the coherence of Sober's system. There is no good principled answer to the question of which features of a population should count among the contributors to fitness. This means there is no non-arbitrary account of the nature of selection
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