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
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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.
Falsifiable Predictions of Evolutionary Theory.Mary B. Williams - 1973 - Philosophy of Science 40 (4):518-537.
The Basic Ideas of Biology.C. H. Waddington - 1968 - Biological Theory 3 (3):238-253.
Hempel's Ambiguity.J. Alberto Coffa - 1974 - Synthese 28 (2):141 - 163.

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Citations of this work BETA

Experimental Explication.Jonah N. Schupbach - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (3):672-710.
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.
Conditions for Evolution by Natural Selection.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (10):489-516.

View all 124 citations / Add more citations

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