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Darwin’s empirical claim and the janiform character of fitness proxies

Krohs, Ulrich (2022) Darwin’s empirical claim and the janiform character of fitness proxies. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Darwin’s claim about natural selection is reconstructed as an empirical claim about a causal connection leading from the match of the physiology of an individual and its environment to leaving surviving progeny. Variations in this match, Darwin claims, cause differences in the survival of the progeny. Modern concepts of fitness focus the survival side of this chain. Therefore, the assumption that evolutionary theory wants to explain reproductive success in terms of a modern concept of fitness has given rise to the so-called tautology problem. It is shown that the tautology problem reappears in the treatment of fitness proxies in today’s experimental evolutionary biology when these proxies are considered to indicate fitness only. Taking Darwin’s empirical claim seriously suggests, by contrast, that fitness proxies are first of all measures of the match between organism and environment, which I call the organism’s ‘fittedness’. At the same time, they are indeed related to reproductive success. Thus looking in both directions, at fitness and at fittedness, they are janiform. Acknowledging this situation not only allows for rejection of the tautology objection, but also for integration of Darwin’s argument into current evolutionary biology. It is suggested that this helps reframe and alleviate the dispute between the Modern Synthesis and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Krohs, Ulrich
Keywords: Darwin; Extended Evolutionary Synthesis; Evolution; Fitness; Fitness Principle; Modern Synthesis; Niche Construction; Origin of Species
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Depositing User: Ulrich Krohs
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2022 04:07
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2022 04:07
Item ID: 20402
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10539-022-09847-0
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Date: 28 March 2022
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20402

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