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An Explication of the Causal Dimension of Drift

Peter Gildenhuys
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Vol. 60, No. 3 (Sep., 2009), pp. 521-555
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25592018
Page Count: 35
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An Explication of the Causal Dimension of Drift
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Abstract

Among philosophers, controversy over the notion of drift in population genetics is ongoing. This is at least partly because the notion of drift has an ambiguous usage among population geneticists. My goal in this paper is to explicate the causal dimension of drift, to say what causal influences are responsible for the stochasticity in population genetics models. It is commonplace for population genetics to oppose the influence of selection to that of drift, and to consider how the dynamics of populations are altered when each has greater or lesser influence. I define the causes that are referred to as drift when researchers speak this way.

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