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Fitness, Probability and the Principles of Natural Selection

Frédéric Bouchard and Alex Rosenberg
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Vol. 55, No. 4 (Dec., 2004), pp. 693-712
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3541623
Page Count: 20
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Fitness, Probability and the Principles of Natural Selection
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Abstract

We argue that a fashionable interpretation of the theory of natural selection as a claim exclusively about populations is mistaken. The interpretation rests on adopting an analysis of fitness as a probabilistic propensity which cannot be substantiated, draws parallels with thermodynamics which are without foundations, and fails to do justice to the fundamental distinction between drift and selection. This distinction requires a notion of fitness as a pairwise comparison between individuals taken two at a time, and so vitiates the interpretation of the theory as one about populations exclusively.

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