Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (1):106-114 (2011)
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 the 20th Century. This has lead to the ever-increasing importance of sexually reproducing organisms and the populations they compose in evolutionary explanations. I will argue that, moving forward, evolutionary theory should look back at its ecological roots in order to be more inclusive in the type of systems it examines. Many biological systems can only be satisfactorily accounted for by offering a non-reproductive account of fitness. This argument will be made by examining biological systems with very small or transient population structures. I argue this has significant consequences for how we define Darwinism, increasing the significance of survival over that of reproduction
|Keywords||Darwinism Persistence Population Survival Reproduction Fitness Evolution|
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References found in this work BETA
The Trials of Life: Natural Selection and Random Drift.Denis M. Walsh, Andre Ariew & Tim Lewens - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (3):452-473.
Two Ways of Thinking About Fitness and Natural Selection.Mohan Matthen & André Ariew - 2002 - Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):55-83.
Natural Selection as a Population-Level Causal Process.Roberta L. Millstein - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (4):627-653.
The Pomp of Superfluous Causes: The Interpretation of Evolutionary Theory.Denis M. Walsh - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (3):281-303.
Size Doesn't Matter: Towards a More Inclusive Philosophy of Biology. [REVIEW]Maureen A. O’Malley & John Dupré - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (2):155-191.
Citations of this work BETA
Natural Selection Through Survival Alone, and the Possibility of Gaia.W. Ford Doolittle - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (3):415-423.
Levels of Selection Are Artefacts of Different Fitness Temporal Measures.Pierrick Bourrat - 2015 - Ratio 28 (1):40-50.
Searching for Darwinism in Generalized Darwinism.Thomas A. C. Reydon & Markus Scholz - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (3):561-589.
From Survivors to Replicators: Evolution by Natural Selection Revisited.Pierrick Bourrat - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (4):517-538.
Ecosystem Evolution is About Variation and Persistence, Not Populations and Reproduction.Frédéric Bouchard - 2014 - Biological Theory 9 (4):382-391.
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