Natural selection or the non-survival of the non-fit

Acta Biotheoretica 47 (2):83-97 (1999)
The effects of natural selection as a process in natural populations differs from ''survival of the fittest'' as it was formulated by Darwin in his ''Origin of Species''. The environment of a population exists of continuous changing conditions, which are heterogeneous in space. During its life each individual successively meets with differing conditions. During these confrontations the individual may appear to be ''unfit'' or ''unlucky'' and may die. If it survives it will meet the following conditions to which it is ''tested'' anew, a.s.o. Hence, many individuals being less fit under certain conditions will survive and reproduce, because they did not meet a deadly moment. Therefore, being ''fit'' only refers to special prevalent conditions. In each generation the individuals thus being ''unfit'' will be eliminated together with the ''unlucky'' ones. All other individuals will survive and reproduce, notwithstanding their properties.Hence, natural selection results in the ''non-survival of the non-fit'' rather than in ''survival of the fittest'', because being ''fit'' simply means ''having survived and reproduced'', whereas being ''unfit'' can be connected with many kinds of properties and environmental conditions, e.g. being killed by a predator. Only after many generations (hundreds or even thousands) the effect of eventually dominating properties of the survivors may result in a set of properties suggesting an overall ''survival of the fittest''. This was what Darwin wanted to explain as he was mainly interested in evolutionary processes.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Biology   Evolutionary Biology
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DOI 10.1023/A:1002053820381
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