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  1. The Phylogeny Fallacy and the Ontogeny Fallacy.Adam Hochman - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (4):593-612.
    In 1990 Robert Lickliter and Thomas Berry identified the phylogeny fallacy, an empirically untenable dichotomy between proximate and evolutionary causation, which locates proximate causes in the decoding of ‘ genetic programs’, and evolutionary causes in the historical events that shaped these programs. More recently, Lickliter and Hunter Honeycutt argued that Evolutionary Psychologists commit this fallacy, and they proposed an alternative research program for evolutionary psychology. For these authors the phylogeny fallacy is the proximate/evolutionary distinction itself, which they argue constitutes a (...)
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  • Organisms, Traits, and Population Subdivisions: Two Arguments Against the Causal Conception of Fitness?G. Ramsey - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (3):589-608.
    A major debate in the philosophy of biology centers on the question of how we should understand the causal structure of natural selection. This debate is polarized into the causal and statistical positions. The main arguments from the statistical side are that a causal construal of the theory of natural selection's central concept, fitness, either (i) leads to inaccurate predictions about population dynamics, or (ii) leads to an incoherent set of causal commitments. In this essay, I argue that neither the (...)
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  • Locating Uncertainty in Stochastic Evolutionary Models: Divergence Time Estimation.Charles H. Pence - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (2):21.
    Philosophers of biology have worked extensively on how we ought best to interpret the probabilities which arise throughout evolutionary theory. In spite of this substantial work, however, much of the debate has remained persistently intractable. I offer the example of Bayesian models of divergence time estimation as a case study in how we might bring further resources from the biological literature to bear on these debates. These models offer us an example in which a number of different sources of uncertainty (...)
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  • Autonomous-Statistical Explanations and Natural Selection: Figure 1.André Ariew, Collin Rice & Yasha Rohwer - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (3):635-658.
    Shapiro and Sober claim that Walsh, Ariew, Lewens, and Matthen give a mistaken, a priori defense of natural selection and drift as epiphenomenal. Contrary to Shapiro and Sober’s claims, we first argue that WALM’s explanatory doctrine does not require a defense of epiphenomenalism. We then defend WALM’s explanatory doctrine by arguing that the explanations provided by the modern genetical theory of natural selection are ‘autonomous-statistical explanations’ analogous to Galton’s explanation of reversion to mediocrity and an explanation of the diffusion ofgases. (...)
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  • Descriptions and Models: Some Responses to Abrams.Denis M. Walsh - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 44 (3):302-308.
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  • Fitness: Philosophical Problems.Grant Ramsey & Charles H. Pence - 2013 - eLS.
    Fitness plays many roles throughout evolutionary theory, from a measure of populations in the wild to a central element in abstract theoretical presentations of natural selection. It has thus been the subject of an extensive philosophical literature, which has primarily centered on the way to understand the relationship between fitness values and reproductive outcomes. If fitness is a probabilistic or statistical quantity, how is it to be defined in general theoretical contexts? How can it be measured? Can a single conceptual (...)
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  • Four Pillars of Statisticalism.Denis M. Walsh, André Ariew & Mohan Matthen - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (1).
    Over the past fifteen years there has been a considerable amount of debate concerning what theoretical population dynamic models tell us about the nature of natural selection and drift. On the causal interpretation, these models describe the causes of population change. On the statistical interpretation, the models of population dynamics models specify statistical parameters that explain, predict, and quantify changes in population structure, without identifying the causes of those changes. Selection and drift are part of a statistical description of population (...)
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  • A Critical Review of the Statisticalist Debate.Jun Otsuka - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (4):459-482.
    Over the past decade philosophers of biology have discussed whether evolutionary theory is a causal theory or a phenomenological study of evolution based solely on the statistical features of a population. This article reviews this controversy from three aspects, respectively concerning the assumptions, applications, and explanations of evolutionary theory, with a view to arriving at a definite conclusion in each contention. In so doing I also argue that an implicit methodological assumption shared by both sides of the debate, namely the (...)
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  • Implications of Use of Wright’s FST for the Role of Probability and Causation in Evolution.Marshall Abrams - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (5):596-608.
    Sewall Wright ’s FST is a mathematical test widely used in empirical applications to characterize genetic and other differences between subpopulations, and to identify causes of those differences. Cockerham and Weir’s popular approach to statistical estimation of FST is based on an assumption sometimes formulated as a claim that actual populations tested are sampled from.
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  • What is Drift? A Response to Millstein, Skipper, and Dietrich.Mohan Matthen - 2010 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 2 (20130604).
    The statistical interpretation of the Theory of Natural Selection claims that natural selection and drift are statistical features of mathematical aggregates of individual-level events. Natural selection and drift are not themselves causes. The statistical interpretation is motivated by a metaphysical conception of individual priority. Recently, Millstein, Skipper, and Dietrich (2009) have argued (a) that natural selection and drift are physical processes, and (b) that the statistical interpretation rests on a misconception of the role of mathematics in biology. Both theses are (...)
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  • Really Statistical Explanations and Genetic Drift.Marc Lange - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (2):169-188.
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  • Probability and Manipulation: Evolution and Simulation in Applied Population Genetics.Marshall Abrams - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S3):519-549.
    I define a concept of causal probability and apply it to questions about the role of probability in evolutionary processes. Causal probability is defined in terms of manipulation of patterns in empirical outcomes by manipulating properties that realize objective probabilities. The concept of causal probability allows us see how probabilities characterized by different interpretations of probability can share a similar causal character, and does so in such way as to allow new inferences about relationships between probabilities realized in different chance (...)
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  • Selection in a Complex World: Deriving Causality From Stable Equilibrium.Hugh Desmond - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (2):265-286.
    It is an ongoing controversy whether natural selection is a cause of population change, or a mere statistical description of how individual births and deaths accumulate. In this paper I restate the problem in terms of the reference class problem, and propose how the structure of stable equilibrium can provide a solution in continuity with biological practice. Insofar natural selection can be understood as a tendency towards equilibrium, key statisticalist criticisms are avoided. Further, in a modification of the Newtonian-force analogy, (...)
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  • Symmetry Breaking and the Emergence of Path-Dependence.Hugh Desmond - 2017 - Synthese (10):4101-4131.
    Path-dependence offers a promising way of understanding the role historicity plays in explanation, namely, how the past states of a process can matter in the explanation of a given outcome. The two main existing accounts of path-dependence have sought to present it either in terms of dynamic landscapes or branching trees. However, the notions of landscape and tree both have serious limitations and have been criticized. The framework of causal networks is both more fundamental and more general that that of (...)
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  • On Probabilities in Biology and Physics.Joseph Berkovitz & Philippe Huneman - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S3):433-456.
    This volume focuses on various questions concerning the interpretation of probability and probabilistic reasoning in biology and physics. It is inspired by the idea that philosophers of biology and philosophers of physics who work on the foundations of their disciplines encounter similar questions and problems concerning the role and application of probability, and that interaction between the two communities will be both interesting and fruitful. In this introduction we present the background to the main questions that the volume focuses on (...)
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  • Natural Selection: A Case for the Counterfactual Approach. [REVIEW]Philippe Huneman - 2012 - Erkenntnis 76 (2):171-194.
    This paper investigates the conception of causation required in order to make sense of natural selection as a causal explanation of changes in traits or allele frequencies. It claims that under a counterfactual account of causation, natural selection is constituted by the causal relevance of traits and alleles to the variation in traits and alleles frequencies. The “statisticalist” view of selection (Walsh, Matthen, Ariew, Lewens) has shown that natural selection is not a cause superadded to the causal interactions between individual (...)
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  • Assessing Statistical Views of Natural Selection: Room for Non-Local Causation?Philippe Huneman - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):604-612.
    Recently some philosophers have emphasized a potentially irreconcilable conceptual antagonism between the statistical characterization of natural selection and the standard scientific discussion of natural selection in terms of forces and causes. Other philosophers have developed an account of the causal character of selectionist statements represented in terms of counterfactuals. I examine the compatibility between such statisticalism and counterfactually based causal accounts of natural selection by distinguishing two distinct statisticalist claims: firstly the suggested impossibility for natural selection to be a cause (...)
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  • Inscrutability and the Opacity of Natural Selection and Random Genetic Drift: Distinguishing the Epistemic and Metaphysical Aspects.Philippe Huneman - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S3):491-518.
    ‘Statisticalists’ argue that the individual interactions of organisms taken together constitute natural selection. On this view, natural selection is an aggregated effect of interactions rather than some added cause acting on populations. The statisticalists’ view entails that natural selection and drift are indistinguishable aggregated effects of interactions, so that it becomes impossible to make a difference between them. The present paper attempts to make sense of the difference between selection and drift, given the main insights of statisticalism; basically, it will (...)
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  • Explanatory Unification and Natural Selection Explanations.Stefan Petkov, Wei Wang & Yi Lei - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (5):705-725.
    The debate between the dynamical and the statistical interpretations of natural selection is centred on the question of whether all explanations that employ the concepts of natural selection and drift are reducible to causal explanations. The proponents of the statistical interpretation answer negatively, but insist on the fact that selection/drift arguments are explanatory. However, they remain unclear on where the explanatory power comes from. The proponents of the dynamical interpretation answer positively and try to reduce selection/drift arguments to some of (...)
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  • Driftability.Grant Ramsey - 2013 - Synthese 190 (17):3909-3928.
    In this paper, I argue (contra some recent philosophical work) that an objective distinction between natural selection and drift can be drawn. I draw this distinction by conceiving of drift, in the most fundamental sense, as an individual-level phenomenon. This goes against some other attempts to distinguish selection from drift, which have argued either that drift is a population-level process or that it is a population-level product. Instead of identifying drift with population-level features, the account introduced here can explain these (...)
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  • Righteous Modeling: The Competence of Classical Population Genetics. [REVIEW]Peter Gildenhuys - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (6):813-835.
    In a recent article, “Wayward Modeling: Population Genetics and Natural Selection,” Bruce Glymour claims that population genetics is burdened by serious predictive and explanatory inadequacies and that the theory itself is to blame. Because Glymour overlooks a variety of formal modeling techniques in population genetics, his arguments do not quite undermine a major scientific theory. However, his arguments are extremely valuable as they provide definitive proof that those who would deploy classical population genetics over natural systems must do so with (...)
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  • “Relevant Similarity” and the Causes of Biological Evolution: Selection, Fitness, and Statistically Abstractive Explanations.Jonathan Michael Kaplan - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (3):405-421.
    Matthen (Philos Sci 76(4):464–487, 2009) argues that explanations of evolutionary change that appeal to natural selection are statistically abstractive explanations, explanations that ignore some possible explanatory partitions that in fact impact the outcome. This recognition highlights a difficulty with making selective analyses fully rigorous. Natural selection is not about the details of what happens to any particular organism, nor, by extension, to the details of what happens in any particular population. Since selective accounts focus on tendencies, those factors that impact (...)
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