Philosophy of Science 46 (2):263-286 (1979)

Abstract
The concept of "fitness" is a notion of central importance to evolutionary theory. Yet the interpretation of this concept and its role in explanations of evolutionary phenomena have remained obscure. We provide a propensity interpretation of fitness, which we argue captures the intended reference of this term as it is used by evolutionary theorists. Using the propensity interpretation of fitness, we provide a Hempelian reconstruction of explanations of evolutionary phenomena, and we show why charges of circularity which have been levelled against explanations in evolutionary theory are mistaken. Finally, we provide a definition of natural selection which follows from the propensity interpretation of fitness, and which handles all the types of selection discussed by biologists, thus improving on extant definitions
Keywords Fitness   Probability   Biology   Explanation   Philosophy of Science
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DOI 10.1086/288865
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References found in this work BETA

Sociobiology: The New Synthesis.Edward O. Wilson - 1975 - Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):577-584.
The Philosophy of Biology.David L. Hull & Michael Ruse (eds.) - 1973 - London: Oxford University Press.
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Philosophy and Scientific Realism.J. J. C. Smart - 1965\ - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 15 (60):358-360.
Falsifiable Predictions of Evolutionary Theory.Mary B. Williams - 1973 - Philosophy of Science 40 (4):518-537.

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Citations of this work BETA

A New Foundation for the Propensity Interpretation of Fitness.Charles H. Pence & Grant Ramsey - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4):851-881.
Experimental Explication.Jonah N. Schupbach - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (3):672-710.
Chance and Natural Selection.John Beatty - 1984 - Philosophy of Science 51 (2):183-211.

View all 164 citations / Add more citations

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