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  1. 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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  • 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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  • One Equation to Rule Them All: A Philosophical Analysis of the Price Equation.Victor Luque - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (1):97-125.
    This paper provides a philosophical analysis of the Price equation and its role in evolutionary theory. Traditional models in population genetics postulate simplifying assumptions in order to make the models mathematically tractable. On the contrary, the Price equation implies a very specific way of theorizing, starting with assumptions that we think are true and then deriving from them the mathematical rules of the system. I argue that the Price equation is a generalization-sketch, whose main purpose is to provide a unifying (...)
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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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  • Drift and Evolutionary Forces: Scrutinizing the Newtonian Analogy.Víctor Luque - 2016 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 31 (3).
    This article analyzes the view of evolutionary theory as a theory of forces. The analogy with Newtonian mechanics has been challenged due to the alleged mismatch between drift and the other evolutionary forces. Since genetic drift has no direction several authors tried to protect its status as a force: denying its lack of directionality, extending the notion of force and looking for a force in physics which also lacks of direction. I analyse these approaches, and although this strategy finally succeeds, (...)
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  • Exploring the Status of Population Genetics: The Role of Ecology.Roberta L. Millstein - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (4):346-357.
    The status of population genetics has become hotly debated among biologists and philosophers of biology. Many seem to view population genetics as relatively unchanged since the Modern Synthesis and have argued that subjects such as development were left out of the Synthesis. Some have called for an extended evolutionary synthesis or for recognizing the insignificance of population genetics. Yet others such as Michael Lynch have defended population genetics, declaring "nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of population genetics" (...)
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  • What is Drift? A Response to Millstein, Skipper, and Dietrich.Mohan Matthen - 2010 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 2 (20130604).
    The statistical interpretation of the Theory of Natural Selection claims that natural selection and drift are statistical features of mathematical aggregates of individual-level events. Natural selection and drift are not themselves causes. The statistical interpretation is motivated by a metaphysical conception of individual priority. Recently, Millstein, Skipper, and Dietrich (2009) have argued (a) that natural selection and drift are physical processes, and (b) that the statistical interpretation rests on a misconception of the role of mathematics in biology. Both theses are (...)
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  • Rethinking Hardy–Weinberg and Genetic Drift in Undergraduate Biology.Joanna Masel - 2012 - Bioessays 34 (8):701-710.
  • Natural Selection: A Case for the Counterfactual Approach. [REVIEW]Philippe Huneman - 2012 - Erkenntnis 76 (2):171-194.
    This paper investigates the conception of causation required in order to make sense of natural selection as a causal explanation of changes in traits or allele frequencies. It claims that under a counterfactual account of causation, natural selection is constituted by the causal relevance of traits and alleles to the variation in traits and alleles frequencies. The “statisticalist” view of selection (Walsh, Matthen, Ariew, Lewens) has shown that natural selection is not a cause superadded to the causal interactions between individual (...)
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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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  • Drift Beyond Wright–Fisher.Hayley Clatterbuck - 2015 - Synthese 192 (11):3487-3507.
    Several recent arguments by philosophers of biology have challenged the traditional view that evolutionary factors, such as drift and selection, are genuine causes of evolutionary outcomes. In the case of drift, advocates of the statistical theory argue that drift is merely the sampling error inherent in the other stochastic processes of evolution and thus denotes a mathematical, rather than causal, feature of populations. This debate has largely centered around one particular model of drift, the Wright–Fisher model, and this has contributed (...)
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  • Ecosystem Evolution is About Variation and Persistence, Not Populations and Reproduction.Frédéric Bouchard - 2014 - Biological Theory 9 (4):382-391.
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