Pluralism in evolutionary controversies: styles and averaging strategies in hierarchical selection theories

Biology and Philosophy 28 (6):957-979 (2013)

Authors
Rasmus Winther
University of California, Santa Cruz
Abstract
Two controversies exist regarding the appropriate characterization of hierarchical and adaptive evolution in natural populations. In biology, there is the Wright-Fisher controversy over the relative roles of random genetic drift, natural selection, population structure, and interdemic selection in adaptive evolution begun by Sewall Wright and Ronald Aylmer Fisher. There is also the Units of Selection debate, spanning both the biological and the philosophical literature and including the impassioned group-selection debate. Why do these two discourses exist separately, and interact relatively little? We postulate that the reason for this schism can be found in the differing focus of each controversy, a deep difference itself determined by distinct general styles of scientific research guiding each discourse. That is, the Wright-Fisher debate focuses on adaptive process, and tends to be instructed by the mathematical modeling style, while the focus of the Units of Selection controversy is adaptive product, and is typically guided by the function style. The differences between the two discourses can be usefully tracked by examining their interpretations of two contested strategies for theorizing hierarchical selection: horizontal and vertical averaging
Keywords Hierarchical selection  Sewall Wright  R.A. Fisher  Units of selection  Levels of selection  Styles of scientific research  Models  Adaptation  Averaging strategies  Averaging fallacy  Group selection
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-013-9378-y
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References found in this work BETA

Evolution and the Levels of Selection.Samir Okasha - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
The Nature of Selection.Elliott Sober - 1986 - Behaviorism 14 (1):77-88.

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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.

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