The trials of life: Natural selection and random drift

Philosophy of Science 69 (3):452-473 (2002)
We distinguish dynamical and statistical interpretations of evolutionary theory. We argue that only the statistical interpretation preserves the presumed relation between natural selection and drift. On these grounds we claim that the dynamical conception of evolutionary theory as a theory of forces is mistaken. Selection and drift are not forces. Nor do selection and drift explanations appeal to the (sub-population-level) causes of population level change. Instead they explain by appeal to the statistical structure of populations. We briefly discuss the implications of the statistical interpretation of selection for various debates within the philosophy of biologythe `explananda of selection' debate and the `units of selection' debate.
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DOI 10.1086/342454
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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.

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