David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of Science 46 (2):263-286 (1979)
The concept of "fitness" is a notion of central importance to evolutionary theory. Yet the interpretation of this concept and its role in explanations of evolutionary phenomena have remained obscure. We provide a propensity interpretation of fitness, which we argue captures the intended reference of this term as it is used by evolutionary theorists. Using the propensity interpretation of fitness, we provide a Hempelian reconstruction of explanations of evolutionary phenomena, and we show why charges of circularity which have been levelled against explanations in evolutionary theory are mistaken. Finally, we provide a definition of natural selection which follows from the propensity interpretation of fitness, and which handles all the types of selection discussed by biologists, thus improving on extant definitions
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Citations of this work BETA
D. M. Walsh (2015). Variance, Invariance and Statistical Explanation. Erkenntnis 80 (3):469-489.
James R. Griesemer & Michael J. Wade (1988). Laboratory Models, Causal Explanation and Group Selection. Biology and Philosophy 3 (1):67-96.
Frédéric Bouchard (2011). Darwinism Without Populations: A More Inclusive Understanding of the “Survival of the Fittest”. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (1):106-114.
Lane DesAutels (2015). Toward a Propensity Interpretation of Stochastic Mechanism for the Life Sciences. Synthese 192 (9):2921-2953.
Arno G. Wouters (2003). Four Notions of Biological Function. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 34 (4):633-668.
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