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  1. John Maynard Smith’s Typology of Animal Signals: A View From Semiotics.Timo Maran - 2009 - Sign Systems Studies 37 (3/4):477-495.
    Approaches to animal communication have for the most part been quite different in semiotics and evolutionary biology. In this context the writings of a leading evolutionary biologist who has also been attracted to semiotics — John Maynard Smith — are an interesting exception and object of study. The present article focuses on the use and adaptation of semiotic terminology in Maynard Smith’s works with reference to general theoretical premises both in semiotics and evolutionary biology. In developing a typology of animal (...)
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  • The stability of traits conception of the hologenome: An evolutionary account of holobiont individuality.Javier Suárez - 2020 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42 (1):1-27.
    Bourrat and Griffiths :33, 2018) have recently argued that most of the evidence presented by holobiont defenders to support the thesis that holobionts are evolutionary individuals is not to the point and is not even adequate to discriminate multispecies evolutionary individuals from other multispecies assemblages that would not be considered evolutionary individuals by most holobiont defenders. They further argue that an adequate criterion to distinguish the two categories is fitness alignment, presenting the notion of fitness boundedness as a criterion that (...)
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  • Darwinism, Memes, and Creativity: A Critique of Darwinian Analogical Reasoning From Nature to Culture.Maria Kronfeldner - 2007 - Dissertation, University of Regensburg
    The dissertation criticizes two analogical applications of Darwinism to the spheres of mind and culture: the Darwinian approach to creativity and memetics. These theories rely on three basic analogies: the ontological analogy states that the basic ontological units of culture are so-called memes, which are replicators like genes; the origination analogy states that novelty in human creativity emerges in a "blind" Darwinian manner; and the explanatory units of selection analogy states that memes are "egoistic" and that they can spread independently (...)
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  • General Solution to All Philosophical Problems With Some Exceptions.Wayde Beasley - forthcoming - north of parallel 40: Numerous uncommitted.
    Philosophy is unsolved. My forthcoming book sets forth the final resolution, with some exceptions, to this 2,500 year crisis. I am currently close to finishing page 983.
     
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  • Fitness, Probability and the Principles of Natural Selection.Frederic Bouchard & Alexander 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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  • How Do Natural Selection and Random Drift Interact?Marshall Abrams - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (5):666-679.
    One controversy about the existence of so called evolutionary forces such as natural selection and random genetic drift concerns the sense in which such “forces” can be said to interact. In this paper I explain how natural selection and random drift can interact. In particular, I show how population-level probabilities can be derived from individual-level probabilities, and explain the sense in which natural selection and drift are embodied in these population-level probabilities. I argue that whatever causal character the individual-level probabilities (...)
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  • The Pomp of Superfluous Causes: The Interpretation of Evolutionary Theory.Denis M. Walsh - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (3):281-303.
    There are two competing interpretations of the modern synthesis theory of evolution: the dynamical (also know as ‘traditional’) and the statistical. The dynamical interpretation maintains that explanations offered under the auspices of the modern synthesis theory articulate the causes of evolution. It interprets selection and drift as causes of population change. The statistical interpretation holds that modern synthesis explanations merely cite the statistical structure of populations. This paper offers a defense of statisticalism. It argues that a change in trait frequencies (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Four Pillars of Statisticalism.Denis M. Walsh, André Ariew & Mohan Matthen - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (1):1-18.
    Over the past fifteen years there has been a considerable amount of debate concerning what theoretical population dynamic models tell us about the nature of natural selection and drift. On the causal interpretation, these models describe the causes of population change. On the statistical interpretation, the models of population dynamics models specify statistical parameters that explain, predict, and quantify changes in population structure, without identifying the causes of those changes. Selection and drift are part of a statistical description of population (...)
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  • Probability in Biology: The Case of Fitness.Roberta L. Millstein - 2016 - In A. Hájek & C. R. Hitchcock (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 601-622.
    I argue that the propensity interpretation of fitness, properly understood, not only solves the explanatory circularity problem and the mismatch problem, but can also withstand the Pandora’s box full of problems that have been thrown at it. Fitness is the propensity (i.e., probabilistic ability, based on heritable physical traits) for organisms or types of organisms to survive and reproduce in particular environments and in particular populations for a specified number of generations; if greater than one generation, “reproduction” includes descendants of (...)
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  • Taming Fitness: Organism‐Environment Interdependencies Preclude Long‐Term Fitness Forecasting.Guilhem Doulcier, Peter Takacs & Pierrick Bourrat - 2021 - Bioessays 43 (1):2000157.
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  • A New Foundation for the Propensity Interpretation of Fitness.Charles H. Pence & Grant Ramsey - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4):851-881.
    The propensity interpretation of fitness (PIF) is commonly taken to be subject to a set of simple counterexamples. We argue that three of the most important of these are not counterexamples to the PIF itself, but only to the traditional mathematical model of this propensity: fitness as expected number of offspring. They fail to demonstrate that a new mathematical model of the PIF could not succeed where this older model fails. We then propose a new formalization of the PIF that (...)
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  • Autonomous-Statistical Explanations and Natural Selection: Figure 1.André Ariew, Collin Rice & Yasha Rohwer - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (3):635-658.
    Shapiro and Sober claim that Walsh, Ariew, Lewens, and Matthen give a mistaken, a priori defense of natural selection and drift as epiphenomenal. Contrary to Shapiro and Sober’s claims, we first argue that WALM’s explanatory doctrine does not require a defense of epiphenomenalism. We then defend WALM’s explanatory doctrine by arguing that the explanations provided by the modern genetical theory of natural selection are ‘autonomous-statistical explanations’ analogous to Galton’s explanation of reversion to mediocrity and an explanation of the diffusion ofgases. (...)
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  • Is Cultural Fitness Hopelessly Confused?Grant Ramsey & Andreas De Block - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2).
    Fitness is a central concept in evolutionary theory. Just as it is central to biological evolution, so, it seems, it should be central to cultural evolutionary theory. But importing the biological fitness concept to CET is no straightforward task—there are many features unique to cultural evolution that make this difficult. This has led some theorists to argue that there are fundamental problems with cultural fitness that render it hopelessly confused. In this essay, we defend the coherency of cultural fitness against (...)
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  • Locating Uncertainty in Stochastic Evolutionary Models: Divergence Time Estimation.Charles H. Pence - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (2):21.
    Philosophers of biology have worked extensively on how we ought best to interpret the probabilities which arise throughout evolutionary theory. In spite of this substantial work, however, much of the debate has remained persistently intractable. I offer the example of Bayesian models of divergence time estimation as a case study in how we might bring further resources from the biological literature to bear on these debates. These models offer us an example in which a number of different sources of uncertainty (...)
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  • El holobionte/hologenoma como nivel de selección: Una aproximación a la evolución de los consorcios de múltiples especies.Javier Suárez - forthcoming - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia.
    The units or levels of selection debate concerns the question of what kind of biological systems are stable enough that part of their evolution is a result of the process of natural selection acting at their level. Traditionally, the debate has concerned at least two different, though related, questions: the question of the level at which interaction with the environment occurs (which entity acts as an interactor), and the question of the level at which reproduction occurs (which entity acts as (...)
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  • Evolution and the Classification of Social Behavior.Patrick Forber & Rory Smead - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (3):405-421.
    Recent studies in the evolution of cooperation have shifted focus from altruistic to mutualistic cooperation. This change in focus is purported to reveal new explanations for the evolution of prosocial behavior. We argue that the common classification scheme for social behavior used to distinguish between altruistic and mutualistic cooperation is flawed because it fails to take into account dynamically relevant game-theoretic features. This leads some arguments about the evolution of cooperation to conflate dynamical scenarios that differ regarding the basic conditions (...)
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  • Téléologie et fonctions en biologie. Une approche non causale des explications téléofonctionnelles.Alberto Molina Pérez - 2017 - Dissertation, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
    This dissertation is focused on teleology and functions in biology. More precisely, it focuses on the scientific legitimacy of teleofunctional attributions and explanations in biology. It belongs to a multi-faceted debate that can be traced back to at least the 1970s. One aspect of the debate concerns the naturalization of functions. Most authors try to reduce, translate or explain functions and teleology in terms of efficient causes so that they find their place in the framework of the natural sciences. Our (...)
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  • Plant Individuality: A Solution to the Demographer’s Dilemma.Ellen Clarke - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (3):321-361.
    The problem of plant individuality is something which has vexed botanists throughout the ages, with fashion swinging back and forth from treating plants as communities of individuals (Darwin 1800 ; Braun and Stone 1853 ; Münch 1938 ) to treating them as organisms in their own right, and although the latter view has dominated mainstream thought most recently (Harper 1977 ; Cook 1985 ; Ariew and Lewontin 2004 ), a lively debate conducted mostly in Scandinavian journals proves that the issues (...)
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  • An Herbiary of Plant Individuality.Sophie Gerber - 2018 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 10 (5):1-5.
    Questioning the nature of individuality has a long and a rich history, both in philosophy and in biology. Because they differ in several features from the pervasive vertebrate-human model, plants have been considered as complicating the question. Here, the various plant species on which authors—whether biologists or philosophers—rely to build the picture of plant individuality are examined and tracked for their peculiarities, thus constituting an “herbiary” of plant individuality. The herbiary of plant individuality has as its members species exhibiting a (...)
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  • Conditions for Evolution by Natural Selection.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (10):489-516.
    Both biologists and philosophers often make use of simple verbal formulations of necessary and sufficient conditions for evolution by natural selection (ENS). Such summaries go back to Darwin's Origin of Species (especially the "Recapitulation"), but recent ones are more compact.1 Perhaps the most commonly cited formulation is due to Lewontin.2 These summaries tend to have three or four conditions, where the core requirement is a combination of variation, heredity, and fitness differences. The summaries are employed in several ways. First, they (...)
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  • Tracking Eudaimonia.Paul Bloomfield - 2018 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 10 (2).
    A basic challenge to naturalistic moral realism is that, even if moral properties existed, there would be no way to naturalistically represent or track them. Here, the basic structure for a tracking account of moral epistemology is given in empirically respectable terms, based on a eudaimonist conception of morality. The goal is to show how this form of moral realism can be seen as consistent with the details of evolutionary biology as well as being amenable to the most current understanding (...)
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  • Darwinism Without Populations: A More Inclusive Understanding of the “Survival of the Fittest”.Frédéric Bouchard - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 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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  • 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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  • A Critical Review of the Statisticalist Debate.Jun Otsuka - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (4):459-482.
    Over the past decade philosophers of biology have discussed whether evolutionary theory is a causal theory or a phenomenological study of evolution based solely on the statistical features of a population. This article reviews this controversy from three aspects, respectively concerning the assumptions, applications, and explanations of evolutionary theory, with a view to arriving at a definite conclusion in each contention. In so doing I also argue that an implicit methodological assumption shared by both sides of the debate, namely the (...)
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  • The Early History of Chance in Evolution.Charles H. Pence - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 50:48-58.
    Work throughout the history and philosophy of biology frequently employs ‘chance’, ‘unpredictability’, ‘probability’, and many similar terms. One common way of understanding how these concepts were introduced in evolution focuses on two central issues: the first use of statistical methods in evolution (Galton), and the first use of the concept of “objective chance” in evolution (Wright). I argue that while this approach has merit, it fails to fully capture interesting philosophical reflections on the role of chance expounded by two of (...)
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  • Levels, Time and Fitness in Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality.Pierrick Bourrat - 2015 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice 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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  • Fitness: Philosophical Problems.Grant Ramsey & Charles Pence - 2013 - eLS.
    Fitness plays many roles throughout evolutionary theory, from a measure of populations in the wild to a central element in abstract theoretical presentations of natural selection. It has thus been the subject of an extensive philosophical literature, which has primarily centered on the way to understand the relationship between fitness values and reproductive outcomes. If fitness is a probabilistic or statistical quantity, how is it to be defined in general theoretical contexts? How can it be measured? Can a single conceptual (...)
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  • The Conflation of "Chance" in Evolution.Charles H. Pence - manuscript
    Discussions of “chance” and related concepts are found throughout philosophical work on evolutionary theory. By drawing attention to three very commonly-recognized distinctions, I separate four independent concepts falling under the broad heading of “chance”: randomness, epistemic unpredictability, causal indeterminism, and probabilistic causal processes. Far from a merely semantic distinction, however, it is demonstrated that conflation of these obviously distinct notions has an important bearing on debates at the core of evolutionary theory, particularly the debate over the interpretation of fitness, natural (...)
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  • Driftability.Grant Ramsey - 2013 - Synthese 190 (17):3909-3928.
    In this paper, I argue (contra some recent philosophical work) that an objective distinction between natural selection and drift can be drawn. I draw this distinction by conceiving of drift, in the most fundamental sense, as an individual-level phenomenon. This goes against some other attempts to distinguish selection from drift, which have argued either that drift is a population-level process or that it is a population-level product. Instead of identifying drift with population-level features, the account introduced here can explain these (...)
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  • A Persistence Enhancing Propensity Account of Ecological Function to Explain Ecosystem Evolution.Antoine C. Dussault & Frédéric Bouchard - 2017 - Synthese 194 (4).
    We argue that ecology in general and biodiversity and ecosystem function research in particular need an understanding of functions which is both ahistorical and evolutionarily grounded. A natural candidate in this context is Bigelow and Pargetter’s evolutionary forward-looking account which, like the causal role account, assigns functions to parts of integrated systems regardless of their past history, but supplements this with an evolutionary dimension that relates functions to their bearers’ ability to thrive and perpetuate themselves. While Bigelow and Pargetter’s account (...)
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  • Philosophies of Particular Biological Research Programs.Ulrich Krohs - 2006 - Biological Theory 1 (2):182-187.
    There is a trend within philosophy of biology to concentrate on questions that are strongly related to particular biological research programs rather than on the general scope of the field and its relation to other sciences. Projects of the latter kind, of course, are followed as well but will not be the topic of this review. Shifting the focus to particular research programs reflects philosophers’ increased interest in knowledge of, and contribution to, actual biological research, which is organized in such (...)
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  • Toward a Propensity Interpretation of Stochastic Mechanism for the Life Sciences.Lane DesAutels - 2015 - Synthese 192 (9):2921-2953.
    In what follows, I suggest that it makes good sense to think of the truth of the probabilistic generalizations made in the life sciences as metaphysically grounded in stochastic mechanisms in the world. To further understand these stochastic mechanisms, I take the general characterization of mechanism offered by MDC :1–25, 2000) and explore how it fits with several of the going philosophical accounts of chance: subjectivism, frequentism, Lewisian best-systems, and propensity. I argue that neither subjectivism, frequentism, nor a best-system-style interpretation (...)
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  • Who Got What Wrong? Fodor and Piattelli on Darwin: Guiding Principles and Explanatory Models in Natural Selection. [REVIEW]José Díez & Pablo Lorenzano - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (5):1143-1175.
    The purpose of this paper is to defend, contra Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini (F&PP), that the theory of natural selection (NS) is a perfectly bona fide empirical unified explanatory theory. F&PP claim there is nothing non-truistic, counterfactual-supporting, of an “adaptive” character and common to different explanations of trait evolution. In his debate with Fodor, and in other works, Sober defends NS but claims that, compared with classical mechanics (CM) and other standard theories, NS is peculiar in that its explanatory models are (...)
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  • Variance, Invariance and Statistical Explanation.D. M. Walsh - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S3):469-489.
    The most compelling extant accounts of explanation casts all explanations as causal. Yet there are sciences, theoretical population biology in particular, that explain their phenomena by appeal to statistical, non-causal properties of ensembles. I develop a generalised account of explanation. An explanation serves two functions: metaphysical and cognitive. The metaphysical function is discharged by identifying a counterfactually robust invariance relation between explanans event and explanandum. The cognitive function is discharged by providing an appropriate description of this relation. I offer examples (...)
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  • Inscrutability and the Opacity of Natural Selection and Random Genetic Drift: Distinguishing the Epistemic and Metaphysical Aspects.Philippe Huneman - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S3):491-518.
    ‘Statisticalists’ argue that the individual interactions of organisms taken together constitute natural selection. On this view, natural selection is an aggregated effect of interactions rather than some added cause acting on populations. The statisticalists’ view entails that natural selection and drift are indistinguishable aggregated effects of interactions, so that it becomes impossible to make a difference between them. The present paper attempts to make sense of the difference between selection and drift, given the main insights of statisticalism; basically, it will (...)
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  • On Probabilities in Biology and Physics.Joseph Berkovitz & Philippe Huneman - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S3):433-456.
    This volume focuses on various questions concerning the interpretation of probability and probabilistic reasoning in biology and physics. It is inspired by the idea that philosophers of biology and philosophers of physics who work on the foundations of their disciplines encounter similar questions and problems concerning the role and application of probability, and that interaction between the two communities will be both interesting and fruitful. In this introduction we present the background to the main questions that the volume focuses on (...)
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  • Population Thinking as Trope Nominalism.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Synthese 177 (1):91 - 109.
    The concept of population thinking was introduced by Ernst Mayr as the right way of thinking about the biological domain, but it is difficult to find an interpretation of this notion that is both unproblematic and does the theoretical work it was intended to do. I argue that, properly conceived, Mayr’s population thinking is a version of trope nominalism: the view that biological property-types do not exist or at least they play no explanatory role. Further, although population thinking has been (...)
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  • Replication Without Replicators.Bence Nanay - 2011 - Synthese 179 (3):455-477.
    According to a once influential view of selection, it consists of repeated cycles of replication and interaction. It has been argued that this view is wrong: replication is not necessary for evolution by natural selection. I analyze the nine most influential arguments for this claim and defend the replication–interaction conception of selection against these objections. In order to do so, however, the replication–interaction conception of selection needs to be modified significantly. My proposal is that replication is not the copying of (...)
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  • Teaching About Adaptation: Why Evolutionary History Matters. [REVIEW]Kostas Kampourakis - 2013 - Science & Education 22 (2):173-188.
    Adaptation is one of the central concepts in evolutionary theory, which nonetheless has been given different definitions. Some scholars support a historical definition of adaptation, considering it as a trait that is the outcome of natural selection, whereas others support an ahistorical definition, considering it as a trait that contributes to the survival and reproduction of its possessors. Finally, adaptation has been defined as a process, as well. Consequently, two questions arise: the first is a philosophical one and focuses on (...)
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  • Transitions in Evolution: A Formal Analysis.Pierrick Bourrat - forthcoming - Synthese.
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  • ¿Son los genetistas de poblaciones inductivistas estrechos?Ariel Jonathan Roffé & Santiago Ginnobili - 2018 - Scientiae Studia 15 (2):263.
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  • Descriptions and Models: Some Responses to Abrams.Denis M. Walsh - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):302-308.
  • The Current Status of the Philosophy of Biology.Peter Takacs & Michael Ruse - 2013 - Science & Education 22 (1):5-48.
  • Evolutionary Biology and Classical Teleological Arguments for God's Existence.James Dominic Rooney - 2013 - Heythrop Journal 54 (4):617-630.
    Much has been made of how Darwinian thinking destroyed proofs for the existence of God from ‘design’ in the universe. I challenge that prevailing view by looking closely at classical ‘teleological’ arguments for the existence of God. One version championed by Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas stems from how chance is not a sufficient kind of ultimate explanation of the universe. In the course of constructing this argument, I argue that the classical understanding of teleology is no less necessary in modern (...)
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  • Darwinism Without Populations: A More Inclusive Understanding of the “Survival of the Fittest”.Frédéric Bouchard - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (1):106-114.
  • Populations and Pigeons: Prosaic Pluralism About Evolutionary Causes.Marshall Abrams - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):294-301.
    and was correct to conclude that the way a biological population is described should affect conclusions about whether natural selection occurs, but wrong to conclude that natural selection is therefore not a cause. After providing a new argument that ignored crucial biological details, I give a biological illustration that motivates a fairly extreme dependence on description. I argue that contrary to an implication of , biologists allow much flexibility in describing populations, as contemporary research on recent human evolution shows. Properly (...)
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  • A Conceptual Analysis of Evolutionary Theory for Teacher Education.Esther M. van Dijk & Thomas A. C. Reydon - 2010 - Science & Education 19 (6-8):655-677.