Synthese 166 (1):21-40 (2009)

Marshall Abrams
University of Alabama, Birmingham
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 fitness. I distinguish various reference environment problems and propose solutions to some of them. While there has been a limited amount of work on problems concerning what I call "subenvironments", there appears to be no earlier work on problems of what I call the "whole environment". The first solution I propose for a whole environment problem specifies the overall environment for natural selection on a set of biological types present in a population over a specified period of time. The second specifies an environment relevant to extinction of types in a population; this kind of environment is especially relevant to certain kinds of long-term evolution
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Language   Metaphysics   Epistemology   Logic
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Reprint years 2009
DOI 10.1007/s11229-007-9255-9
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References found in this work BETA

Philosophy of Biology.Elliott Sober - 2000 - Westview Press.
The Nature of Selection.Elliott Sober - 1986 - Behaviorism 14 (1):77-88.
The Nature of Mental States.Hilary Putnam - 1967 - In W.H. Capitan & D.D. Merrill (eds.), Art, Mind, and Religion. Pittsburgh University Press. pp. 1--223.

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Citations of this work BETA

A New Foundation for the Propensity Interpretation of Fitness.Charles Pence & Grant Ramsey - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4):851-881.
Mechanistic Probability.Marshall Abrams - 2012 - Synthese 187 (2):343-375.
Statistical Mechanical Imperialism.Brad Weslake - 2014 - In Alastair Wilson (ed.), Chance and Temporal Asymmetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 241-257.
The Unity of Fitness.Marshall Abrams - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (5):750-761.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

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Fitness as a Function.Henry Byerly - 1986 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:494 - 501.


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