Evolution and Constraints on Variation: Variant Specification and Range of Assessment

Philosophy of Science 78 (5):739-751 (2011)
There is still a great deal of debate over what counts as a constraint and about how to assess experimentally the relative importance of constraints and selection in evolutionary history. I will argue that the notion of a constraint on variation, and thus the selection-constraint distinction, depends on two specifications: (1) what counts as a variant -- constraints limit or bias the production of what? and (2) range of assessment -- over what range of times or conditions is the variation assessed? Specifications 1 and 2 help us to understand empirical work on the relative importance of constraint and selection in evolution.
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DOI 10.1086/664568
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John Beatty (2006). Replaying Life's Tape. Journal of Philosophy 103 (7):336-362.

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Trevor Pearce (2012). Philosophy of Biology in the Twenty-First Century. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):312-315.

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