How to understand casual relations in natural selection: Reply to Rosenberg and Bouchard [Book Review]

Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):355-364 (2005)
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In “Two Ways of Thinking About Fitness and Natural Selection” (Matthen and Ariew [2002]; henceforth “Two Ways”), we asked how one should think of the relationship between the various factors invoked to explain evolutionary change – selection, drift, genetic constraints, and so on. We suggested that these factors are not related to one another as “forces” are in classical mechanics. We think it incoherent, for instance, to think of natural selection and drift as separate and opposed “forces” in evolutionary change – that it makes sense to say, for instance, that selection contributed 80% to the actual evolutionary history of the human eye, and drift only 20%. We proposed instead a statistical view of the Theory of Evolution, a view in which fitness is not a cause of evolution, but rather a measure of growth. We also argued for a “hierarchical realization model” for thinking about the relationship between evolutionary factors such as those mentioned above, and suggested that in a “fully specified model”, as we call it below, there is no distinction between natural selection and evolution.



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Author Profiles

Mohan Matthen
University of Toronto, Mississauga
Ariew Andre
University of Missouri, Columbia

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Causal Foundations of Evolutionary Genetics.Jun Otsuka - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (1):247-269.
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