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  1. Imprecise Probability and Biological Fitness.Marshall Abrams - unknown
    I argue that biological fitness sometimes depends on imprecise probabilities. I give a new argument that some outcomes are without objective probability, and argue that organisms encountering environments might sometimes be outcomes of this kind. I argue that since fitness depends on relationships between traits and environments, this means that fitness can depend on imprecise probabilities, and can be defined by an interval between maximum and minimum precise fitnesses. One trait is fitter than another when its minimum fitness is greater (...)
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  2. Fitness “Kinematics”: Biological Function, Altruism, and Organism–Environment Development.Marshall Abrams - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):487-504.
    It’s recently been argued that biological fitness can’t change over the course of an organism’s life as a result of organisms’ behaviors. However, some characterizations of biological function and biological altruism tacitly or explicitly assume that an effect of a trait can change an organism’s fitness. In the first part of the paper, I explain that the core idea of changing fitness can be understood in terms of conditional probabilities defined over sequences of events in an organism’s life. The result (...)
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  3. The Unity of Fitness.Marshall Abrams - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (5):750-761.
    It has been argued that biological fitness cannot be defined as expected number of offspring in all contexts. Some authors argue that fitness therefore merely satisfies a common schema or that no unified mathematical characterization of fitness is possible. I argue that comparative fitness must be relativized to an evolutionary effect; thus relativized, fitness can be given a unitary mathematical characterization in terms of probabilities of producing offspring and other effects. Such fitnesses will sometimes be defined in terms of probabilities (...)
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  4. What Determines Biological Fitness? The Problem of the Reference Environment.Marshall Abrams - 2009 - Synthese 166 (1):21-40.
    Organisms' environments are thought to play a fundamental role in determining their fitness and hence in natural selection. Existing intuitive conceptions of environment are sufficient for biological practice. I argue, however, that attempts to produce a general characterization of fitness and natural selection are incomplete without the help of general conceptions of what conditions are included in the environment. Thus there is a "problem of the reference environment"—more particularly, problems of specifying principles which pick out those environmental conditions which determine (...)
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  5. Fitness and Propensity's Annulment?Marshall Abrams - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (1):115-130.
    Recent debate on the nature of probabilities in evolutionary biology has focused largely on the propensity interpretation of fitness (PIF), which defines fitness in terms of a conception of probability known as “propensity”. However, proponents of this conception of fitness have misconceived the role of probability in the constitution of fitness. First, discussions of probability and fitness have almost always focused on organism effect probability, the probability that an organism and its environment cause effects. I argue that much of the (...)
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  6. Concerning a Postulate of Fitness.H. G. Alexander - 1953 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 14 (3):309-318.
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  7. What Fitness Can't Be.Andre Ariew - 2009 - Erkenntnis 71 (3):289 - 301.
    Recently advocates of the propensity interpretation of fitness have turned critics. To accommodate examples from the population genetics literature they conclude that fitness is better defined broadly as a family of propensities rather than the propensity to contribute descendants to some future generation. We argue that the propensity theorists have misunderstood the deeper ramifications of the examples they cite. These examples demonstrate why there are factors outside of propensities that determine fitness. We go on to argue for the more general (...)
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  8. What Fitness Can’T Be.André Ariew & Zachary Ernst - 2009 - Erkenntnis 71 (3):289-301.
    Recently advocates of the propensity interpretation of fitness have turned critics. To accommodate examples from the population genetics literature they conclude that fitness is better defined broadly as a family of propensities rather than the propensity to contribute descendants to some future generation. We argue that the propensity theorists have misunderstood the deeper ramifications of the examples they cite. These examples demonstrate why there are factors outside of propensities that determine fitness. We go on to argue for the more general (...)
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  9. The Confusions of Fitness.André Ariew & R. C. Lewontin - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):347-363.
    The central point of this essay is to demonstrate the incommensurability of ‘Darwinian fitness’ with the numeric values associated with reproductive rates used in population genetics. While sometimes both are called ‘fitness’, they are distinct concepts coming from distinct explanatory schemes. Further, we try to outline a possible answer to the following question: from the natural properties of organisms and a knowledge of their environment, can we construct an algorithm for a particular kind of organismic life-history pattern that itself will (...)
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  10. Fitness Maximization.Jonathan Birch - 2018 - In Richard Joyce (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Evolution and Philosophy. London: Routledge. pp. 49-63.
    Is there any way to reconcile the adaptationist’s image of natural selection as an engine of optimality with the more complex image of its dynamics we get from population genetics? This has long been an important strand in the controversy surrounding adaptationism, yet debate has been hampered by a tendency to conflate various different ways of thinking about maximization. Here I distinguish four varieties of maximization principle. I then discuss the logical relations between these varieties, arguing that, although they may (...)
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  11. Hamilton's Two Conceptions of Social Fitness.Jonathan Birch - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (5):848-860.
    Hamilton introduced two conceptions of social fitness, which he called neighbour-modulated fitness and inclusive fitness. Although he regarded them as formally equivalent, a re-analysis of his own argument for their equivalence brings out two important assumptions on which it rests: weak additivity and actor's control. When weak additivity breaks down, neither fitness concept is appropriate in its original form. When actor's control breaks down, neighbour-modulated fitness may be appropriate, but inclusive fitness is not. Yet I argue that, despite its more (...)
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  12. Natural Selection and the Maximization of Fitness.Jonathan Birch - 2016 - Biological Reviews 91 (3):712-727.
    The notion that natural selection is a process of fitness maximization gets a bad press in population genetics, yet in other areas of biology the view that organisms behave as if attempting to maximize their fitness remains widespread. Here I critically appraise the prospects for reconciliation. I first distinguish four varieties of fitness maximization. I then examine two recent developments that may appear to vindicate at least one of these varieties. The first is the ‘new’ interpretation of Fisher's fundamental theorem (...)
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  13. Gene Mobility and the Concept of Relatedness.Jonathan Birch - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (4):445-476.
    Cooperation is rife in the microbial world, yet our best current theories of the evolution of cooperation were developed with multicellular animals in mind. Hamilton’s theory of inclusive fitness is an important case in point: applying the theory in a microbial setting is far from straightforward, as social evolution in microbes has a number of distinctive features that the theory was never intended to capture. In this article, I focus on the conceptual challenges posed by the project of extending Hamilton’s (...)
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  14. Has Grafen Formalized Darwin?Jonathan Birch - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (2):175-180.
    One key aim of Grafen’s Formal Darwinism project is to formalize ‘modern biology’s understanding and updating of Darwin’s central argument’. In this commentary, I consider whether Grafen has succeeded in this aim.
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  15. Samir Okasha and Ken Binmore (Eds) Evolution and Rationality: Decisions, Cooperation, and Strategic Behaviour. [REVIEW]Jonathan Birch - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (3):669-673.
    Evolution and Rationality marks the end of a three-year project, ‘Evolution, Cooperation, and Rationality’, directed at the University of Bristol by the book’s editors, Samir Okasha and Ken Binmore. The collection draws together the editors’ pick of the papers delivered at the conferences the project hosted, and covers a wide range of topics at the intersection of evolutionary theory and the social sciences. It is a splendid anthology: timely, interdisciplinary, thematically cohesive, and full of substantive and interesting disagreements between the (...)
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  16. A Single-Process Learning Theory.Marion Blute - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (3):529-531.
    Many analogies exist between the process of evolution by natural selection and of learning by reinforcement and punishment. A full extension of the evolutionary analogy to learning to include analogues of the fitness, genotype, development, environmental influences, and phenotype concepts makes possible a single theory of the learning process able to encompass all of the elementary procedures known to yield learning.
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  17. Darwinism Without Populations: A More Inclusive Understanding of the “Survival of the Fittest”.Bouchard Frédéric - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (1):106-114.
    Following Wallace’s suggestion, Darwin framed his theory using Spencer’s expression “survival of the fittest”. Since then, fitness occupies a significant place in the conventional understanding of Darwinism, even though the explicit meaning of the term ‘fitness’ is rarely stated. In this paper I examine some of the different roles that fitness has played in the development of the theory. Whereas the meaning of fitness was originally understood in ecological terms, it took a statistical turn in terms of reproductive success throughout (...)
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  18. What Is a Symbiotic Superindividual and How Do You Measure Its Fitness?Frédéric Bouchard - 2013 - In Philippe Huneman & Frédéric Bouchard (eds.), From Groups to Individuals. Evolution and Emerging Individuality. MIT Press. pp. 243.
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  19. Causal Processes, Fitness, and the Differential Persistence of Lineages.Frédéric Bouchard - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (5):560-570.
    Ecological fitness has been suggested to provide a unifying definition of fitness. However, a metric for this notion of fitness was in most cases unavailable except by proxy with differential reproductive success. In this article, I show how differential persistence of lineages can be used as a way to assess ecological fitness. This view is inspired by a better understanding of the evolution of some clonal plants, colonial organisms, and ecosystems. Differential persistence shows the limitation of an ensemblist noncausal understanding (...)
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  20. Fitness.Frédéric Bouchard - 2006 - In J. Pfeifer & Sahotra Sarkar (eds.), The Philosophy of Science: An Encyclopedia. Psychology Press. pp. 310--315.
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  21. Fitness, Probability and the Principles of Natural Selection.Frédéric Bouchard & Alex Rosenberg - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (4):693-712.
    We argue that a fashionable interpretation of the theory of natural selection as a claim exclusively about populations is mistaken. The interpretation rests on adopting an analysis of fitness as a probabilistic propensity which cannot be substantiated, draws parallels with thermodynamics which are without foundations, and fails to do justice to the fundamental distinction between drift and selection. This distinction requires a notion of fitness as a pairwise comparison between individuals taken two at a time, and so vitiates the interpretation (...)
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  22. Levels, Time and Fitness in Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality.Pierrick Bourrat - 2015 - Philosophy and Theory in Biology 7 (20150505).
    Yes, fitness is the central concept of evolutionary biology, but it is an elusive concept. Almost everyone who looks at it seriously comes out in a different place.
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  23. A Structural Description of Evolutionary Theory.Robert N. Brandon - 1980 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:427 - 439.
    The principle of natural selection is stated. It connects fitness values (actual reproductive success) with expected fitness values. The term 'adaptedness' is used for expected fitness values. The principle of natural selection explains differential fitness in terms of relative adaptedness. It is argued that this principle is absolutely central to Darwinian evolutionary theory. The empirical content of the principle of natural selection is examined. It is argued that the principle itself has no empirical biological content, but that the presuppositions of (...)
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  24. The Propensity Interpretation of 'Fitness'--No Interpretation is No Substitute.Robert Brandon & John Beatty - 1984 - Philosophy of Science 51 (2):342-347.
  25. Quasi-Independence, Fitness, and Advantageousness.Kevin Brosnan - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40 (3):228-234.
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  26. Quasi-Independence, Fitness, and Advantageousness.Kevin Brosnan - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 40 (3):228-234.
    I argue that the idea of ‘quasi-independence’ [Lewontin, R. C. . Adaptation. Scientific American, 239, 212–230] cannot be understood without attending to the distinction between fitness and advantageousness [Sober, E. . Philosophy of biology. Boulder: Westview Press]. Natural selection increases the frequency of fitter traits, not necessarily of advantageous ones. A positive correlation between an advantageous trait and a disadvantageous one may prevent the advantageous trait from evolving. The quasi-independence criterion is aimed at specifying the conditions under which advantageous traits (...)
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  27. Fitness as a Function.Henry Byerly - 1986 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:494 - 501.
    Fitness in the sense of actual rate of increase of genotypes, commonly used in population genetics, is contrasted with fitness in the ordinary sense (and Darwin's) of adaptedness of organisms. Fitness as actual reproductive success is interpreted as a function of variables representing intrinsic adaptive capacities and environmental properties. Adaptive capacities causally contribute to fitness as actual reproductive success which in turn, as relative increase of genotypes, determines evolutionary change. The propensity interpretation of fitness is shown not to play a (...)
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  28. Fitness and Evolutionary Explanation. [REVIEW]Henry C. Byerly & Richard E. Michod - 1991 - Biology and Philosophy 6 (1):45-53.
    Recent philosophical discussions have failed to clarify the roles of the concept fitness in evolutionary theory. Neither the propensity interpretation of fitness nor the construal of fitness as a primitive theoretical term succeed in explicating the empirical content and explanatory power of the theory of natural selection. By appealing to the structure of simple mathematical models of natural selection, we separate out different contrasts which have tended to confuse discussions of fitness: the distinction between what fitness is defined as versus (...)
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  29. Assessing the Fitness Landscape Revolution.Brett Calcott - 2008 - Biology and Philosophy 23 (5):639-657.
    According to Pigliucci and Kaplan, there is a revolution underway in how we understand fitness landscapes. Recent models suggest that a perennial problem in these landscapes—how to get from one peak across a fitness valley to another peak—is, in fact, non-existent. In this paper I assess the structure and the extent of Pigliucci and Kaplan’s proposed revolution and argue for two points. First, I provide an alternative interpretation of what underwrites this revolution, motivated by some recent work on model-based science. (...)
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  30. Training for Fitness: Reconsidering the 80-Hour Work Week.Catherine V. Caldicott & James W. Holsapple - 2007 - Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 51 (1):134-143.
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  31. Analyzing and Comparing the Geometry of Individual Fitness Surfaces.S. F. Chenoweth, J. Hunt & H. D. Rundle - 2012 - In E. Svensson & R. Calsbeek (eds.), The Adaptive Landscape in Evolutionary Biology. Oxford University Press. pp. 126--149.
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  32. Analyzing and Comparing the Geometry of Individual Fitness.Stephen F. Chenoweth, John Hunt & Howard D. Rundle - 2012 - In E. Svensson & R. Calsbeek (eds.), The Adaptive Landscape in Evolutionary Biology. Oxford University Press. pp. 126.
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  33. Fitness and Explanation.Gregory Cooper - 1988 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:207 - 215.
    Although consensus appears to be on the horizon, the foundations of the theory of natural selection remain a matter of controversy. This paper looks at two recent challenges to the emerging "received view" of this theory. It argues that different views of the nature of scientific explanation are playing a pivotal role in the debates. Do explanations in biology fit the covering-law paradigm? What are the explanatory laws of biology like? Until agreement is reached on these fundamental questions, there is (...)
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  34. Crusaders for Fitness: The History of American Health Reformers. [REVIEW]Roger Cooter - 1984 - British Journal for the History of Science 17 (1):92-93.
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  35. The Effects of Nematode Infection and Mi-Mediated Resistance in Tomato (Solanum Lycopersicum) on Plant Fitness.Brandon P. Corbett - 2007 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 8.
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  36. Commentary on the Paper by H.C. Byerly and R.E. Michod, “Fitness and Evolutionary Explanation”.A. Brito Cunhdaa - 1991 - Biology and Philosophy 6 (1).
  37. Commentary on the Paper by HC Byerly and RE Michod,“Fitness and Evolutionary Explanation”.A. Brito Da Cunha - 1991 - Biology and Philosophy 6 (1):23-27.
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  38. FRUSTRATION: PHYSICO-CHEMICAL PREREQUISITES FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF A SYNTHETIC CELL.Antoine Danchin & Agnieszka Sekowska - 2008 - In Martin G. Hicks and Carsten Kettner (ed.), Proceedings of the International Beilstein Symposium on Systems Chemistry May 26th – 30th, 2008 Bozen, Italy. Beilstein Institute. pp. 1-19.
    To construct a synthetic cell we need to understand the rules that permit life. A central idea in modern biology is that in addition to the four entities making reality, matter, energy, space and time, a fifth one, information, plays a central role. As a consequence of this central importance of the management of information, the bacterial cell is organised as a Turing machine, where the machine, with its compartments defining an inside and an outside and its metabolism, reads and (...)
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  39. A Transdisciplinary Perspective Concerning the Origin of the Species: The Migratory Theory of Genetic Fitness.Da de MontoyaPeck, N. L. Montoya & C. P. Montoya - 2009 - World Futures 65 (3):166-175.
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  40. Fitness Among Competitive Agents: A Brief Note.William Dembski - manuscript
    The upshot of the No Free Lunch theorems is that averaged over all fitness functions, evolutionary computation does no better than blind search (see Dembski 2002, ch 4 as well as Dembski 2005 for an overview). But this raises a question: How does evolutionary computation obtain its power since, clearly, it is capable of doing better than blind search? One approach is to limit the fitness functions (see Igel and Toussaint 2001). Another, illustrated in David Fogel’s work on automated checker (...)
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  41. Darwinian Fitness, Evolutionary Entropy and Directionality Theory.Klaus Dietz - 2005 - Bioessays 27 (11):1097-1101.
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  42. Natural Selection and Fitness.Theodosius Dobzhansky - 1963 - The Eugenics Review 55 (2):129.
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  43. Increasingly Radical Claims About Heredity and Fitness.Eugene Earnshaw-Whyte - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (3):396-412.
  44. On the Adaptations of Organisms and the Fitness of Types.Lia Ettinger, Eva Jablonka & Peter McLaughlin - 1990 - Philosophy of Science 57 (3):499-513.
    We claim that much of the confusion associated with the "tautology problem" about survival of the fittest is due to the mistake of attributing fitness to individuals instead of to types. We argue further that the problem itself cannot be solved merely by taking fitness as the aggregate cause of reproductive success. We suggest that a satisfying explanation must center not on logical analysis of the concept of general adaptedness but on the empirical analysis of single adapted traits and their (...)
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  45. The Fitness of the Environment for the Continuity of Consciousness.Gustave A. Feingold - 1914 - Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 11 (16):436-441.
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  46. On the Biological Significance of the Properties of Matter: L. J. Henderson's Theory of the Fitness of the Environment. [REVIEW]Iris Fry - 1996 - Journal of the History of Biology 29 (2):155 - 196.
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  47. On the Biological Significance of the Properties of Matter: L.J. Henderson's Theory of the Fitness of the Environment.Iris Fry - 1996 - Journal of the History of Biology 29 (2):155-196.
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  48. The Evolution of Wright’s Adaptive Field to Contemporary Interpretations and Uses of Fitness Landscapes in the Social Sciences.Lasse Gerrits & Peter Marks - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (4):459-479.
    The concepts of adaptation and fitness have such an appeal that they have been used in other scientific domains, including the social sciences. One particular aspect of this theory transfer concerns the so-called fitness landscape models. At first sight, fitness landscapes visualize how an agent, of any kind, relates to its environment, how its position is conditional because of the mutual interaction with other agents, and the potential routes towards improved fitness. The allure of fitness landscapes is first and foremost (...)
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  49. Inclusive Fitness and the Sociobiology of the Genome.Herbert Gintis - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (4):477-515.
    Inclusive fitness theory provides conditions for the evolutionary success of a gene. These conditions ensure that the gene is selfish in the sense of Dawkins (The selfish gene, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1976): genes do not and cannot sacrifice their own fitness on behalf of the reproductive population. Therefore, while natural selection explains the appearance of design in the living world (Dawkins in The blind watchmaker: why the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design, W. W. Norton, New York, (...)
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  50. Additivity and the Units of Selection.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 1992 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:315 - 328.
    "Additive variance in fitness" is an important concept in the formal apparatus of population genetics. Wimsatt and Lloyd have argued that this concept can also be used to decide the "unit of selection" in an evolutionary process. The paper argues that the proposed criteria of Wimsatt and Lloyd are ambiguous, and several interpretations of their views are presented. It is argued that none of these interpretations provide acceptable criteria for deciding units of selection. The reason is that additive variance in (...)
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