Matthen and Ariew's obituary for fitness: Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated [Book Review]

Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):343-353 (2005)
Philosophers of biology have been absorbed by the problem of defining evolutionary fitness since Darwin made it central to biological explanation. The apparent problem is obvious. Define fitness as some biologists implicitly do, in terms of actual survival and reproduction, and the principle of natural selection turns into an empty tautology: those organisms which survive and reproduce in larger numbers, survive and reproduce in larger numbers. Accordingly, many writers have sought to provide a definition for ‘fitness’ which avoid this outcome. In particular the definition of fitness as a probabilistic propensity has been widely favored.1 Others, recognizing that no definition both correct and complete can actually be provided, have accepted the consequence that the leading principle of the theory is a definitional truth and attempted to mitigate the impact of this outcome for the empirical character of the theory.2 Still others have argued that ‘fitness’ is properly viewed as a term undefined in the theory of natural selection (on the model of mass—a term undefined in Newtonian mechanics).3 But few have contemplated the solution to this problem proposed by Mohan Matthen and André Ariew (hereafter, MA), in..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,351
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA
    Peter Gildenhuys (2009). An Explication of the Causal Dimension of Drift. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (3):521-555.

    View all 9 citations

    Similar books and articles

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    31 ( #47,399 of 1,088,396 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,601 of 1,088,396 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.