Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection—a philosophical analysis

This paper provides a philosophical analysis of the ongoing controversy surrounding R.A. Fisher's famous ‘fundamental theorem’ of natural selection. The difference between the ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ interpretations of the theorem is explained. I argue that proponents of the modern interpretation have captured Fisher's intended meaning correctly and shown that the theorem is mathematically correct, pace the traditional consensus. However, whether the theorem has any real biological significance remains an unresolved issue. I argue that the answer depends on whether we accept Fisher's non-standard notion of environmental change, on which the theorem rests; arguments for and against this notion are explored. I suggest that there is a close link between Fisher's fundamental theorem and the modern ‘gene's eye’ view of evolution. Introduction What Does the Fundamental Theorem Say? Key Concepts Explained Alleged Significance of the FTNS Traditional versus Modern Interpretations of the FTNS The Modern Interpretation Illustrated Fisher's Concept of ‘Environmental Change’ Causality and the Modern Interpretation The Significance of the FTNS Re-considered Appendix CiteULike    Connotea    What's this?
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axn010
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References found in this work BETA
David L. Hull (1978). A Matter of Individuality. Philosophy of Science 45 (3):335-360.

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Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Ryan Giordano, Michael D. Edge & Rasmus Nielsen (2015). The Mind, the Lab, and the Field: Three Kinds of Populations in Scientific Practice. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:12-21.
David Haig (2012). The Strategic Gene. Biology and Philosophy 27 (4):461-479.
Elliott Sober (2013). Trait Fitness is Not a Propensity, but Fitness Variation Is. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):336-341.
W. J. Ewens (2011). What is the Gene Trying to Do? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (1):155-176.
Samir Okasha (2010). Replies to My Critics. Biology and Philosophy 25 (3):425-431.

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