W.F.R. Weldon changes his mind

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3):1-20 (2021)
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A recent debate over the causal foundations of evolutionary theory pits those who believe that natural selection causally explains long-term, adaptive population change against those who do not. In this paper, I argue that this debate – far from being an invention of several articles in 2002 – dates from our very first engagements with evolution as a quantified, statistical science. Further, when we analyze that history, we see that a pivotal figure in the early use of statistical methodology in evolutionary theory, W.F.R. Weldon, changes his mind about precisely the central claim at issue. I close by drawing some morals which I think the case can offer for the contemporary debate going forward.



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Charles H. Pence
Université Catholique de Louvain

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References found in this work

The propensity interpretation of fitness.Susan K. Mills & John H. Beatty - 1979 - Philosophy of Science 46 (2):263-286.
Natural selection as a population-level causal process.Roberta L. Millstein - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (4):627-653.
Epiphenomenalism - the do's and the don 'ts'.Lawrence A. Shapiro & Elliott Sober - 2007 - In G. Wolters & Peter K. Machamer (eds.), Thinking About Causes: From Greek Philosophy to Modern physics. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 235-264.

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