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Causal Processes, Fitness, and the Differential Persistence of Lineages

Frédéric Bouchard
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 75, No. 5, Proceedings of the 2006 Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science AssociationPart II: Symposia PapersEdited by Cristina Bicchieri and Jason Alexander (December 2008), pp. 560-570
DOI: 10.1086/594507
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/594507
Page Count: 11
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Causal Processes, Fitness, and the Differential Persistence of Lineages
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Abstract

Ecological fitness has been suggested to provide a unifying definition of fitness. However, a metric for this notion of fitness was in most cases unavailable except by proxy with differential reproductive success. In this article, I show how differential persistence of lineages can be used as a way to assess ecological fitness. This view is inspired by a better understanding of the evolution of some clonal plants, colonial organisms, and ecosystems. Differential persistence shows the limitation of an ensemblist noncausal understanding of evolution. Causal explanations are necessary to understand the evolution by natural selection of these biological systems.

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