Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection—a philosophical analysis

Abstract
This paper provides a philosophical analysis of the ongoing controversy surrounding R.A. Fisher's famous ‘fundamental theorem’ of natural selection. The difference between the ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ interpretations of the theorem is explained. I argue that proponents of the modern interpretation have captured Fisher's intended meaning correctly and shown that the theorem is mathematically correct, pace the traditional consensus. However, whether the theorem has any real biological significance remains an unresolved issue. I argue that the answer depends on whether we accept Fisher's non-standard notion of environmental change, on which the theorem rests; arguments for and against this notion are explored. I suggest that there is a close link between Fisher's fundamental theorem and the modern ‘gene's eye’ view of evolution. Introduction What Does the Fundamental Theorem Say? Key Concepts Explained Alleged Significance of the FTNS Traditional versus Modern Interpretations of the FTNS The Modern Interpretation Illustrated Fisher's Concept of ‘Environmental Change’ Causality and the Modern Interpretation The Significance of the FTNS Re-considered Appendix CiteULike    Connotea    Del.icio.us    What's this?
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axn010
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References found in this work BETA
A Matter of Individuality.David L. Hull - 1978 - Philosophy of Science 45 (3):335-360.
Artifact, Cause and Genic Selection.Elliott Sober & Richard C. Lewontin - 1982 - Philosophy of Science 49 (2):157-180.
The Return of the Gene.Kim Sterelny & Philip Kitcher - 1988 - Journal of Philosophy 85 (7):339-361.
What Was Fisher's Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection and What Was It For?Anya Plutynski - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 37 (1):59-82.

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Citations of this work BETA
The Mind, the Lab, and the Field: Three Kinds of Populations in Scientific Practice.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Ryan Giordano, Michael D. Edge & Rasmus Nielsen - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:12-21.
The Strategic Gene.David Haig - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (4):461-479.
Trait Fitness is Not a Propensity, but Fitness Variation Is.Elliott Sober - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):336-341.
What is the Gene Trying to Do?W. J. Ewens - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (1):155-176.
Utopianism in the British Evolutionary Synthesis.Maurizio Esposito - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (1):40-49.

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What Was Fisher's Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection and What Was It For?Anya Plutynski - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 37 (1):59-82.
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