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The Causal Structure of Evolutionary Theory

Ramsey, Grant (2015) The Causal Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Australasian Journal of Philosophy.

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Abstract

One contentious debate in the philosophy of biology is that between the statisticalists and causalists. The former understand core evolutionary concepts like fitness and selection to be mere statistical summaries of underlying causal processes. In this view, evolutionary changes cannot be causally explained by selection or fitness. The causalist side, on the other hand, holds that populations can change in response to selection—one can cite fitness differences or driftability in causal explanations of evolutionary change. But, on the causalist side, it is often not clear how, precisely, one should understand these causes. Thus, much more could be said about what sort of causes fitness and driftability are. In this paper, I borrow Dretske's distinction between structuring and triggering causes and I suggest that fitness and driftability are structuring causes of evolution.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Ramsey, Grantgrant@theramseylab.org
Keywords: Evolution, Causation, Natural Selection, Genetic Drift, Driftability, Fitness, Propensity
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Depositing User: Dr. Grant Ramsey
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2015 12:57
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2015 12:57
Item ID: 11779
Journal or Publication Title: Australasian Journal of Philosophy
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00048402.2015.1111398
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1080/00048402.2015.1111398
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Date: 18 November 2015
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11779

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