The statistical character of evolutionary theory

Philosophy of Science 61 (1):76-95 (1994)
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Abstract

This paper takes a critical look at the idea that evolutionary theory is a statistical theory. It argues that despite the strong instrumental motivation for statistical theories, they are not necessary to explain deterministic systems. Biological evolution is fundamentally a result of deterministic processes. Hence, a statistical theory is not necessary for describing the evolutionary forces of genetic drift and natural selection, nor is it needed for describing the fitness of organisms. There is a computational advantage to the statistical theory of population genetics, but population genetics succeeds only by eliminating causes from its account of evolutionary change.

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References found in this work

The Fixation of Belief.C. S. Peirce - 1877 - Popular Science Monthly 12 (1):1-15.
Evolution, population thinking, and essentialism.Elliott Sober - 1980 - Philosophy of Science 47 (3):350-383.
The propensity interpretation of fitness.Susan K. Mills & John H. Beatty - 1979 - Philosophy of Science 46 (2):263-286.
Adaptation and Evolutionary Theory.Robert N. Brandon - 1978 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 9 (3):181.
Scientific explanation.James Woodward - 1979 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 30 (1):41-67.

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