In David L. Hull & Michael Ruse (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Philosophy of Biology. Cambridge University Press (2006)
AbstractPopulation genetics attempts to measure the influence of the causes of evolution, viz., mutation, migration, natural selection, and random genetic drift, by understanding the way those causes change the genetics of populations. But how does it accomplish this goal? After a short introduction, we begin in section (2) with a brief historical outline of the origins of population genetics. In section (3), we sketch the model theoretic structure of population genetics, providing the flavor of the ways in which population genetics theory might be understood as incorporating causes. In sections (4) and (5) we discuss two specific problems concerning the relationship between population genetics and evolutionary causes, viz., the problem of conceptually distinguishing natural selection from random genetic drift, and the problem of interpreting fitness. In section (6), we briefly discuss the methodology and key epistemological problems faced by population geneticists in uncovering the causes of evolution. Section (7) of the essay contains concluding remarks.
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References found in this work
Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World.Wesley C. Salmon - 1984 - Princeton University Press.
The Nature of Selection: Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus.Elliott Sober - 1984 - University of Chicago Press.
Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World.Ronald N. Giere - 1988 - Philosophical Review 97 (3):444.
Adaptation and Evolutionary Theory.Robert N. Brandon - 1978 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 9 (3):181.
The Propensity Interpretation of Fitness.Susan K. Mills & John H. Beatty - 1979 - Philosophy of Science 46 (2):263-286.
Citations of this work
(Mis)Interpreting Mathematical Models: Drift as a Physical Process.Michael R. Dietrich, Robert A. Skipper Jr & Roberta L. Millstein - 2009 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 1 (20130604):e002.
Probability in Biology: The Case of Fitness.Roberta L. Millstein - 2016 - In A. Hájek & C. R. Hitchcock (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 601-622.
The so-Called Extended Synthesis and Population Genetics.Lindsay R. Craig - 2010 - Biological Theory 5 (2):117-123.
On Mechanistic Reasoning in Unexpected Places: The Case of Population Genetics.Lucas J. Matthews - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (6):999-1018.
Exploring the Status of Population Genetics: The Role of Ecology.Roberta L. Millstein - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (4):346-357.
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