The mind, the lab, and the field: Three kinds of populations in scientific practice

Authors
Rasmus Winther
University of California, Santa Cruz
Abstract
Scientists use models to understand the natural world, and it is important not to conflate model and nature. As an illustration, we distinguish three different kinds of populations in studies of ecology and evolution: theoretical, laboratory, and natural populations, exemplified by the work of R.A. Fisher, Thomas Park, and David Lack, respectively. Biologists are rightly concerned with all three types of populations. We examine the interplay between these different kinds of populations, and their pertinent models, in three examples: the notion of “effective” population size, the work of Thomas Park on /Tribolium/ populations, and model-based clustering algorithms such as /Structure/. Finally, we discuss ways to move safely between three distinct population types while avoiding confusing models and reality.
Keywords Statistics  Ontology  Models  Ecology  Population Genetics  Population Biology  Reification
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2015.01.009
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References found in this work BETA

Gould on Morton, Redux: What Can the Debate Reveal About the Limits of Data?Jonathan Kaplan, Massimo Pigliucci & Joshua Banta - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:22-31.
What’s so Special About Model Organisms?Rachel A. Ankeny & Sabina Leonelli - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (2):313-323.

View all 43 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Gould on Morton, Redux: What Can the Debate Reveal About the Limits of Data?Jonathan Kaplan, Massimo Pigliucci & Joshua Banta - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:22-31.
Philosophy of Race Meets Population Genetics.Quayshawn Spencer - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:46-55.
A Racial Classification for Medical Genetics.Quayshawn Nigel Julian Spencer - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (5):1013-1037.
Thinking About Populations and Races in Time.Roberta L. Millstein - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:5-11.

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