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The Heuristic Role of Sewall Wright’s 1932 Adaptive Landscape Diagram

Robert A. Skipper, Jr.
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 71, No. 5, Proceedings of the 2002 Biennial Meeting of The Philosophy of Science AssociationPart II: Symposia PapersEdited by Sandra D. Mitchell (December 2004), pp. 1176-1188
DOI: 10.1086/425240
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/425240
Page Count: 13
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The Heuristic Role of Sewall Wright’s 1932 Adaptive Landscape Diagram
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Abstract

Sewall Wright’s adaptive landscape is the most influential heuristic in evolutionary biology. Wright’s biographer, Provine, criticized Wright’s adaptive landscape, claiming that its heuristic value is dubious because of deep flaws. Ruse has defended Wright against Provine. Ruse claims Provine has not shown Wright’s use of the landscape is flawed, and that, even if it were, it is heuristically valuable. I argue that both Provine’s and Ruse’s analyses of the adaptive landscape are defective and suggest a more adequate understanding of it.

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