Natural selection without survival of the fittest

Biology and Philosophy 1 (2):207-225 (1986)
Authors
C. Kenneth Waters
University of Calgary
Abstract
Susan Mills and John Beatty proposed a propensity interpretation of fitness (1979) to show that Darwinian explanations are not circular, but they did not address the critics' chief complaint that the principle of the survival of the fittest is either tautological or untestable. I show that the propensity interpretation cannot rescue the principle from the critics' charges. The critics, however, incorrectly assume that there is nothing more to Darwin's theory than the survival of the fittest. While Darwinians all scoff at this assumption, they do not agree about what role, if any, this principle plays in Darwin's theory of natural selection. I argue that the principle has no place in Darwin's theory. His theory does include the idea that some organisms are fitter than others. But greater reproductive success is simply inferred from higher fitness. There is no reason to embody this inference in the form of a special principle of the survival of the fittest.
Keywords Fitness  propensity  tautology  untestable  semantic view of theories
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DOI 10.1007/BF00142902
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References found in this work BETA

Adaptation and Evolutionary Theory.Robert N. Brandon - 1978 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 9 (3):181-206.
The Propensity Interpretation of Fitness.Susan K. Mills & John H. Beatty - 1979 - Philosophy of Science 46 (2):263-286.
Chance and Natural Selection.John Beatty - 1984 - Philosophy of Science 51 (2):183-211.
Adaptation and Evolutionary Theory.Robert N. Brandon - 1978 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 9 (3):181.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Function, Fitness and Disposition.Sandra D. Mitchell - 1995 - Biology and Philosophy 10 (1):39-54.
Extinction.G. M. Aitken - 1998 - Biology and Philosophy 13 (3):393-411.
Dossier Évolution Et Créationnisme. La Téléologie de Darwin.Kathryn Tabb - 2007 - Natures Sciences Sociétés 15 (3):287-290.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Structural Description of Evolutionary Theory.Robert N. Brandon - 1980 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:427 - 439.
The Non-Existence of a Principle of Natural Selection.Abner Shimony - 1989 - Biology and Philosophy 4 (3):255-273.
The Propensity Interpretation of Fitness.Susan K. Mills & John H. Beatty - 1979 - Philosophy of Science 46 (2):263-286.

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