The Causal Structure of Natural Selection

Cambridge University Press (2021)

Charles H. Pence
Université Catholique de Louvain
Recent arguments concerning the nature of causation in evolutionary theory, now often known as the debate between the 'causalist' and 'statisticalist' positions, have involved answers to a variety of independent questions – definitions of key evolutionary concepts like natural selection, fitness, and genetic drift; causation in multi-level systems; or the nature of evolutionary explanations, among others. This Element offers a way to disentangle one set of these questions surrounding the causal structure of natural selection. Doing so allows us to clearly reconstruct the approach that some of these major competing interpretations of evolutionary theory have to this causal structure, highlighting particular features of philosophical interest within each. Further, those features concern problems not exclusive to the philosophy of biology. Connections between them and, in two case studies, contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of physics demonstrate the potential value of broader collaboration in the understanding of evolution.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy this book $18.52 new (7% off)   $20.00 from Amazon    $27.13 used   Amazon page
ISBN(s) 9781108680691   110874169X   1009100327
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,259
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

W.F.R. Weldon changes his mind.Charles H. Pence - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3):1-20.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Productivity, Relevance and Natural Selection.Stuart Glennan - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (3):325-339.
Natural Selection as a Population-Level Causal Process.Roberta L. Millstein - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (4):627-653.
The Causal Structure of Evolutionary Theory.Grant Ramsey - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3):421-434.
Probabilistic Causation and the Explanatory Role of Natural Selection.Pablo Razeto-Barry & Ramiro Frick - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (3):344-355.
Natural Selection and Causal Productivity.Roberta L. Millstein - 2013 - In Hsiang-Ke Chao, Szu-Ting Chen & Roberta L. Millstein (eds.), Mechanism and Causality in Biology and Economics,. Springer.
A Priori Causal Models of Natural Selection.Elliott Sober - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4):571 - 589.
Selection and Causation.Mohan Matthen & André Ariew - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (2):201-224.
Natural Selection.Robert Brandon - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Can Fitness Differences Be a Cause of Evolution?Grant Ramsey - 2013 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 5 (20130604):1-13.
Natural Selection, Plasticity, and the Rationale for Largest-Scale Trends.Hugh Desmond - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 68:25-33.


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes