David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 6 (1):81-92 (1991)
This paper considers a variety of attempts to define fitness in such a way as to defend the theory of evolution by natural selection from the criticism that it is a circular argument. Each of the definitions is shown to be inconsistent with the others. The paper argues that the environment in which an animal evolves can be defined only with respect to the properties of the phenotype of the animal and that it is therefore not illuminating to try to explain the phenotypic properties of the animal in terms of adaptation to an environment that is defined by those very properties. Furthermore, since there is no way that the environment can be defined independently of the presence of the animal there is no way that the quality of an animal can be assessed; and there can be no objective criteria by whichany form of selection can be carried out, therefore there can be no criteria by whichnatural selection can be carried out. It is proposed that fitness is nothing more than the production of offspring, that this is a phenotypic property like all the others, and if it is heritable then the offspring of the parents that produce the most offspring will themselves produce the most offspring, and that in principle it is impossible to account for this in terms of the other phenotypic properties of the fittest animals except by circular argument. Differential rates of reproduction are the causes of evolution and the phenotypic causes are strictly inexplicable.
|Keywords||Evolution fitness natural selection|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Alexander Rosenberg (1980). Sociobiology and the Preemption of Social Science. Johns Hopkins University Press, C1980.
Susan K. Mills & John H. Beatty (1979). The Propensity Interpretation of Fitness. Philosophy of Science 46 (2):263-286.
Michael Ruse (1983). Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversies. Journal of the History of Biology 16 (3):441-442.
Karl R. Popper (1983). The Open Universe. Philosophy of Science 50 (4):651-656.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Marshall Abrams (2009). What Determines Biological Fitness? The Problem of the Reference Environment. Synthese 166 (1):21 - 40.
Marshall Abrams (2009). Fitness “Kinematics”: Biological Function, Altruism, and Organism–Environment Development. Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):487-504.
Abner Shimony (1989). The Non-Existence of a Principle of Natural Selection. Biology and Philosophy 4 (3):255-273.
André Ariew & R. C. Lewontin (2004). The Confusions of Fitness. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):347-363.
B. S. Niven (1982). Formalization of the Basic Concepts of Animal Ecology. Erkenntnis 17 (3):307 - 320.
Timothy Shanahan (1990). Evolution, Phenotypic Selection, and the Units of Selection. Philosophy of Science 57 (2):210-225.
Marshall Abrams (2009). The Unity of Fitness. Philosophy of Science 76 (5):750-761.
Tim Lewens (2010). The Natures of Selection. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (2):313-333.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads10 ( #336,793 of 1,907,187 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #467,622 of 1,907,187 )
How can I increase my downloads?