Newtonian forces and evolutionary biology: A problem and solution for extending the force interpretation

Philosophy of Science 76 (5):774-783 (2009)
There has recently been a renewed interest in the “force” interpretation of evolutionary biology. In this article, I present the general structure of the arguments for the force interpretation and identify a problem in its overly permissive conditions for being a Newtonian force. I then attempt a solution that (1) helps to illuminate the difference between forces and other types of causes and (2) makes room for random genetic drift as a force. In particular, I argue that forces are not different in kind from other types of causes but rather that forces are situated on a continuum of causes distinguished by their unifying power. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 5185 Helen C. White Hall, Madison, WI 53706; e‐mail:
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DOI 10.1086/605799
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Fitness, Probability and the Principles of Natural Selection.Frédéric Bouchard & Alex Rosenberg - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (4):693-712.
Manipulation and the Causes of Evolution.Kenneth Reisman & Patrick Forber - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1113-1123.
The Principle of Drift: Biology's First Law.Robert N. Brandon - 2006 - Journal of Philosophy 103 (7):319-335.

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Drift Beyond Wright–Fisher.Hayley Clatterbuck - 2015 - Synthese 192 (11):3487-3507.
Spirit.Eric Steinhart - 2017 - Sophia 56 (4):557-571.

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