The non-existence of a principle of natural selection

Biology and Philosophy 4 (3):255-273 (1989)
Abstract
The theory of natural selection is a rich systematization of biological knowledge without a first principle. When formulations of a proposed principle of natural selection are examined carefully, each is seen to be exhaustively analyzable into a proposition about sources of fitness and a proposition about consequences of fitness. But whenever the fitness of an organic variety is well defined in a given biological situation, its sources are local contingencies together with the background of laws from disciplines other than the theory of natural selection; and the consequences of fitness for the long range fate of organic varieties are essentially applications of probability theory. Hence there is no role and no need for a principle of the theory of natural selection, and any generalities that may hold in that theory are derivative rather than fundamental.
Keywords Natural Selection  Evolution  Principle  Probability  Propensity
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References found in this work BETA
Robert N. Brandon (1978). Adaptation and Evolutionary Theory. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 9 (3):181-206.
C. S. Peirce (1877). The Fixation of Belief. Popular Science Monthly 12 (1):1--15.

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Citations of this work BETA
Abner Shimony (1989). Reply to Sober. Biology and Philosophy 4 (3):281-286.
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