Is Genetic Drift a Force?

Abstract
One hotly debated philosophical question in the analysis of evolutionary theory concerns whether or not evolution and the various factors which constitute it may profitably be considered as analogous to “forces” in the traditional, Newtonian sense. Several compelling arguments assert that the force picture is incoherent, due to the peculiar nature of genetic drift. I consider two of those arguments here – that drift lacks a predictable direction, and that drift is constitutive of evolutionary systems – and show that they both fail to demonstrate that a view of genetic drift as a force is untenable. I go on to diagnose the reasons for the stubborn persistence of this problem, considering two open philosophical issues and offering some preliminary arguments in support of the force metaphor.
Keywords Evolutionary theory  Genetic drift  Force  Causation   Brownian motion
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Reprint years 2016, 2017
DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1031-2
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
The Nature of Selection.Elliott Sober - 1986 - Behaviorism 14 (1):77-88.
Natural Selection as a Population-Level Causal Process.Roberta L. Millstein - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (4):627-653.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Composition of Forces.Olivier Massin - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (3):805-846.
The Composition of Forces.Olivier Massin - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axv048.

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