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  1. Models, Truth, and Realism.Allan Hazlett - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):630-633.
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  • Selection in a Complex World: Deriving Causality From Stable Equilibrium.Hugh Desmond - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (2):265-286.
    It is an ongoing controversy whether natural selection is a cause of population change, or a mere statistical description of how individual births and deaths accumulate. In this paper I restate the problem in terms of the reference class problem, and propose how the structure of stable equilibrium can provide a solution in continuity with biological practice. Insofar natural selection can be understood as a tendency towards equilibrium, key statisticalist criticisms are avoided. Further, in a modification of the Newtonian-force analogy, (...)
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  • Populations as Individuals.Roberta L. Millstein - 2009 - Biological Theory 4 (3):267-273.
    Biologists studying ecology and evolution use the term “population” in many different ways. Yet little philosophical analysis of the concept has been done, either by biologists or philosophers, in contrast to the voluminous literature on the concept of “species.” This is in spite of the fact that “population” is arguably a far more central concept in ecological and evolutionary studies than “species” is. The fact that such a central concept has been employed in so many different ways is potentially problematic (...)
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  • Population Thinking in Epistemic Evolution: Bridging Cultural Evolution and the Philosophy of Science.Antonio Fadda - forthcoming - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie:1-19.
    Researchers in cultural evolutionary theory have recently proposed the foundation of a new field of research in cultural evolution named ‘epistemic evolution’. Drawing on evolutionary epistemology’s early studies, this programme aims to study science as an evolutionary cultural process. The paper discusses the way CET’s study of science can contribute to the philosophical debate and, vice versa, how the philosophy of science can benefit from the adoption of a cultural evolutionary perspective. Here, I argue that CET’s main contribution to an (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Can Fitness Differences Be a Cause of Evolution?Grant Ramsey - 2013 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 5 (20130604):1-13.
    Biological fitness is a foundational concept in the theory of natural selection. Natural selection is often defined in terms of fitness differences as “any consistent difference in fitness (i.e., survival and reproduction) among phenotypically different biological entities” (Futuyma 1998, 349). And in Lewontin’s (1970) classic articulation of the theory of natural selection, he lists fitness differences as one of the necessary conditions for evolution by natural selection to occur. Despite this foundational position of fitness, there remains much debate over the (...)
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  • Forces and Causes in Evolutionary Theory.Christopher Stephens - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (5):716-727.
    The traditional view of evolutionary theory asserts that we can usefully understand natural selection, drift, mutation, migration, and the system of mating as forces that cause evolutionary change. Recently, Denis Walsh and Robert Brandon have objected to this view. Walsh argues that the traditional view faces a fatal dilemma and that the force analogy must be rejected altogether. Brandon accepts the force analogy but argues that drift, rather than the Hardy-Weinberg law, is the best candidate for a zero-force law. Here (...)
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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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  • Natural Kindness.Matthew H. Slater - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):375-411.
    Philosophers have long been interested in a series of interrelated questions about natural kinds. What are they? What role do they play in science and metaphysics? How do they contribute to our epistemic projects? What categories count as natural kinds? And so on. Owing, perhaps, to different starting points and emphases, we now have at hand a variety of conceptions of natural kinds—some apparently better suited than others to accommodate a particular sort of inquiry. Even if coherent, this situation isn’t (...)
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  • I: The Meaning of the First Person Term.José Luis Bermúdez - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):634-637.
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  • Wittgenstein on the Arbitrariness of Grammar. [REVIEW]Cyrus Panjvani - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):623-626.
    WITTGENSTEIN ON THE ARBITRARINESS OF GRAMMAR Michael N. Forster What is the nature of a conceptual scheme? Are there alternative conceptual schemes?
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  • Intricate Ethics.Elinor Mason - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):621-623.
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  • Appearances of the Good: An Essay on the Nature of Practical Reason.Talbot Brewer - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):618-620.
  • Pierre Gassendi and the Birth of Early Modern Philosophy. [REVIEW]Larry M. Jorgensen - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):615-617.
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  • Explaining the Cosmos: The Ionian Tradition of Scientific Philosophy.Gábor Betegh - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):607-610.
  • Plato's Natural Philosophy: A Study of the Timaeus-Critias. [REVIEW]Catherine Osborne - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):610-614.
  • 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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  • Arbitrariness and Causation in Classical Population Genetics.Peter Gildenhuys - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (3):429-444.
    I criticize some arguments against the causal interpretability of population genetics put forward by Denis Walsh ([2007], [2010]). In particular, I seek to undermine the contention that population genetics exhibits frame of reference relativity or subjectivity with respect to its formal representations. I also show that classical population genetics does not fall foul of some criteria for causal representation put forward by James Woodward ([2003]), although those criteria do undermine some causalist stances. 1 Introduction2 Modularity3 The Crucially Important Point4 The (...)
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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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  • From Necessary Chances to Biological Laws.Chris Haufe - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (2):279-295.
    In this article, I propose a new way of thinking about natural necessity and a new way of thinking about biological laws. I suggest that much of the lack of progress in making a positive case for distinctively biological laws is that we’ve been looking for necessity in the wrong place. The trend has been to look for exceptionlessness at the level of the outcomes of biological processes and to build one’s claims about necessity off of that. However, as Beatty (...)
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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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  • Causal Foundations of Evolutionary Genetics.Jun Otsuka - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (1):247-269.
    The causal nature of evolution is one of the central topics in the philosophy of biology. The issue concerns whether equations used in evolutionary genetics point to some causal processes or purely phenomenological patterns. To address this question the present article builds well-defined causal models that underlie standard equations in evolutionary genetics. These models are based on minimal and biologically plausible hypotheses about selection and reproduction, and generate statistics to predict evolutionary changes. The causal reconstruction of the evolutionary principles shows (...)
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  • Population Pluralism and Natural Selection.Jacob Stegenga - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-29.
    I defend a radical interpretation of biological populations—what I call population pluralism—which holds that there are many ways that a particular grouping of individuals can be related such that the grouping satisfies the conditions necessary for those individuals to evolve together. More constraining accounts of biological populations face empirical counter-examples and conceptual difficulties. One of the most intuitive and frequently employed conditions, causal connectivity—itself beset with numerous difficulties—is best construed by considering the relevant causal relations as ‘thick’ causal concepts. I (...)
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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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  • Natural Selection and Drift as Individual-Level Causes of Evolution.Pierrick Bourrat - 2018 - Acta Biotheoretica 66 (3):159-176.
    In this paper I critically evaluate Reisman and Forber’s :1113–1123, 2005) arguments that drift and natural selection are population-level causes of evolution based on what they call the manipulation condition. Although I agree that this condition is an important step for identifying causes for evolutionary change, it is insufficient. Following Woodward, I argue that the invariance of a relationship is another crucial parameter to take into consideration for causal explanations. Starting from Reisman and Forber’s example on drift and after having (...)
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  • Why a Convincing Argument for Causalism Cannot Entirely Eschew Population-Level Properties: Discussion of Otsuka.Brian McLoone - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (1-2):11.
    Causalism is the thesis that natural selection can cause evolution. A standard argument for causalism involves showing that a hypothetical intervention on some population-level property that is identified with natural selection will result in evolution. In a pair of articles, one of which recently appeared in the pages of this journal, Jun Otsuka has put forward a quite different argument for causalism. Otsuka attempts to show that natural selection can cause evolution by considering a hypothetical intervention on an individual-level property. (...)
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  • Moving Beyond Causes: Optimality Models and Scientific Explanation.Collin Rice - 2015 - Noûs 49 (3):589-615.
    A prominent approach to scientific explanation and modeling claims that for a model to provide an explanation it must accurately represent at least some of the actual causes in the event's causal history. In this paper, I argue that many optimality explanations present a serious challenge to this causal approach. I contend that many optimality models provide highly idealized equilibrium explanations that do not accurately represent the causes of their target system. Furthermore, in many contexts, it is in virtue of (...)
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  • A Mechanistic Framework for Darwinism or Why Fodor’s Objection Fails.Fermín Fulda - 2015 - Synthese 192 (1):163-183.
    Fodor argue that Darwinism cannot be true on the grounds that there are no laws of selection to support counterfactuals about why traits are selected-for. Darwinian explanations, according to this objection, amount to mere ‘plausible historical narratives’. I argue that the objection is predicated on two problematic assumptions: A nomic-subsumption account of causation and causal explanation, and a fine-grained view of the individuation of selected-for effects. Against the former, I argue that Darwinian explanations are a historical species of mechanistic explanation (...)
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  • Two-Dimensional Semantics.P. Sutton - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):637-639.
  • Natural Selection and the Reference Grain Problem.Pierrick Bourrat - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 80:1-8.
  • 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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  • Not a Sure Thing: Fitness, Probability, and Causation.Denis M. Walsh - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (2):147-171.
    In evolutionary biology changes in population structure are explained by citing trait fitness distribution. I distinguish three interpretations of fitness explanations—the Two‐Factor Model, the Single‐Factor Model, and the Statistical Interpretation—and argue for the last of these. These interpretations differ in their degrees of causal commitment. The first two hold that trait fitness distribution causes population change. Trait fitness explanations, according to these interpretations, are causal explanations. The last maintains that trait fitness distribution correlates with population change but does not cause (...)
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  • Drift and “Statistically Abstractive Explanation”.Mohan Matthen - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (4):464-487.
    A hitherto neglected form of explanation is explored, especially its role in population genetics. “Statistically abstractive explanation” (SA explanation) mandates the suppression of factors probabilistically relevant to an explanandum when these factors are extraneous to the theoretical project being pursued. When these factors are suppressed, the explanandum is rendered uncertain. But this uncertainty traces to the theoretically constrained character of SA explanation, not to any real indeterminacy. Random genetic drift is an artifact of such uncertainty, and it is therefore wrong (...)
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  • Is Genetic Drift a Force?Charles H. Pence - manuscript
    One hotly debated philosophical question in the analysis of evolutionary theory concerns whether or not evolution and the various factors which constitute it may profitably be considered as analogous to “forces” in the traditional, Newtonian sense. Several compelling arguments assert that the force picture is incoherent, due to the peculiar nature of genetic drift. I consider two of those arguments here – that drift lacks a predictable direction, and that drift is constitutive of evolutionary systems – and show that they (...)
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  • Organisms, Traits, and Population Subdivisions: Two Arguments Against the Causal Conception of Fitness?Grant30 Ramsey - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (3):589-608.
    A major debate in the philosophy of biology centers on the question of how we should understand the causal structure of natural selection. This debate is polarized into the causal and statistical positions. The main arguments from the statistical side are that a causal construal of the theory of natural selection's central concept, fitness, either (i) leads to inaccurate predictions about population dynamics, or (ii) leads to an incoherent set of causal commitments. In this essay, I argue that neither the (...)
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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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  • Implications of Use of Wright’s FST for the Role of Probability and Causation in Evolution.Marshall Abrams - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (5):596-608.
    Sewall Wright ’s FST is a mathematical test widely used in empirical applications to characterize genetic and other differences between subpopulations, and to identify causes of those differences. Cockerham and Weir’s popular approach to statistical estimation of FST is based on an assumption sometimes formulated as a claim that actual populations tested are sampled from.
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  • Walsh on Causes and Evolution.Robert Northcott - 2010 - Philosophy of Science 77 (3):457-467.
    Denis Walsh has written a striking new defense in this journal of the statisticalist (i.e., noncausalist) position regarding the forces of evolution. I defend the causalist view against his new objections. I argue that the heart of the issue lies in the nature of nonadditive causation. Detailed consideration of that turns out to defuse Walsh’s ‘description‐dependence’ critique of causalism. Nevertheless, the critique does suggest a basis for reconciliation between the two competing views. *Received December 2009; revised December 2009. †To contact (...)
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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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  • Evolution and the Levels of Selection.P. Forber - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (4):626-630.
  • 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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  • Causal Foundations of Evolutionary Genetics.Jun Otsuka - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (1):axu039.
    The causal nature of evolution is one of the central topics in the philosophy of biology. The issue concerns whether equations used in evolutionary genetics point to some causal processes or purely phenomenological patterns. To address this question the present article builds well-defined causal models that underlie standard equations in evolutionary genetics. These models are based on minimal and biologically plausible hypotheses about selection and reproduction, and generate statistics to predict evolutionary changes. The causal reconstruction of the evolutionary principles shows (...)
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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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  • Productivity, Relevance and Natural Selection.Stuart Glennan - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (3):325-339.
    Recent papers by a number of philosophers have been concerned with the question of whether natural selection is a causal process, and if it is, whether the causes of selection are properties of individuals or properties of populations. I shall argue that much confusion in this debate arises because of a failure to distinguish between causal productivity and causal relevance. Causal productivity is a relation that holds between events connected via continuous causal processes, while causal relevance is a relationship that (...)
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  • The Causal Structure of Evolutionary Theory.Grant Ramsey - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3):421-434.
    ABSTRACTOne contentious debate in the philosophy of biology is that between the statisticalists and causalists. The former understand core evolutionary concepts like fitness and selection to be mere statistical summaries of underlying causal processes. In this view, evolutionary changes cannot be causally explained by selection or fitness. The causalist side, on the other hand, holds that populations can change in response to selection—one can cite fitness differences or driftability in causal explanations of evolutionary change. But, on the causalist side, it (...)
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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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  • How to Reconcile a Unified Account of Explanation with Explanatory Diversity.Collin Rice & Yasha Rohwer - forthcoming - Foundations of Science:1-23.
    The concept of explanation is central to scientific practice. However, scientists explain phenomena in very different ways. That is, there are many different kinds of explanation; e.g. causal, mechanistic, statistical, or equilibrium explanations. In light of the myriad kinds of explanation identified in the literature, most philosophers of science have adopted some kind of explanatory pluralism. While pluralism about explanation seems plausible, it faces a dilemma Explanation beyond causation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 39–56, 2018). Either there is nothing that (...)
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  • How Much Can We Know About the Causes of Evolutionary Trends?Derek D. Turner - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (3):341-357.
    One of the first questions that paleontologists ask when they identify a large-scale trend in the fossil record (e.g., size increase, complexity increase) is whether it is passive or driven. In this article, I explore two questions about driven trends: (1) what is the underlying cause or source of the directional bias? and (2) has the strength of the directional bias changed over time? I identify two underdetermination problems that prevent scientists from giving complete answers to these two questions.
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