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The Early History of Chance in Evolution

Pence, Charles H. (2013) The Early History of Chance in Evolution. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Work throughout the history and philosophy of biology frequently employs 'chance', 'unpredictability', 'probability', and many similar terms. One common way of understanding how these concepts were introduced in evolution focuses on two central issues: the first use of statistical methods in evolution (Galton), and the first use of the concept of "objective chance" in evolution (Wright). I argue that while this approach has merit, it fails to fully capture interesting philosophical reflections on the role of chance expounded by two of Galton's students, Karl Pearson and W.F.R. Weldon. Considering a question more familiar from contemporary philosophy of biology – the relationship between our statistical theories of evolution and the processes in the world those theories describe – is, I claim, a more fruitful way to approach both these two historical actors and the broader development of chance in evolution.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Pence, Charles H.charles@charlespence.net
Keywords: chance, Charles Darwin, evolution, Francis Galton, inheritance, Karl Pearson, natural selection, statistics, W.F.R. Weldon
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Depositing User: Charles H. Pence
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2013 07:06
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2013 07:06
Item ID: 9890
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Date: 18 July 2013
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9890

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