The Propensity Interpretation of Fitness and the Propensity Interpretation of Probability

Erkenntnis 80 (S3):457-468 (2015)
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Abstract

The paper provides a new critical perspective on the propensity interpretation of fitness, by investigating its relationship to the propensity interpretation of probability. Two main conclusions are drawn. First, the claim that fitness is a propensity cannot be understood properly: fitness is not a propensity in the sense prescribed by the propensity interpretation of probability. Second, this interpretation of probability is inessential for explanations proposed by the PIF in evolutionary biology. Consequently, interpreting the probabilistic dimension of fitness in terms of propensities is neither a strong motivation in favor of this interpretation, nor a possible target for substantial criticism.

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Author Profiles

Isabelle Drouet
Université Paris-Sorbonne
Francesca Merlin
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

Citations of this work

Trait fitness is not a propensity, but fitness variation is.Elliott Sober - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):336-341.
In What Sense Can There Be Evolution by Natural Selection Without Perfect Inheritance?Pierrick Bourrat - 2019 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 32 (1):13-31.
The Complex Nexus of Evolutionary Fitness.Mauricio Suárez - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (1):1-26.

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The propensity interpretation of probability.Karl R. Popper - 1959 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 10 (37):25-42.
Three theses about dispositions.Elizabeth W. Prior, Robert Pargetter & Frank Jackson - 1982 - American Philosophical Quarterly 19 (3):251-257.

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