The Causal Structure of Natural Selection

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Cambridge University Press, Nov 4, 2021 - Science - 75 pages
Recent arguments concerning the nature of causation in evolutionary theory, now often known as the debate between the 'causalist' and 'statisticalist' positions, have involved answers to a variety of independent questions - definitions of key evolutionary concepts like natural selection, fitness, and genetic drift; causation in multi-level systems; or the nature of evolutionary explanations, among others. This Element offers a way to disentangle one set of these questions surrounding the causal structure of natural selection. Doing so allows us to clearly reconstruct the approach that some of these major competing interpretations of evolutionary theory have to this causal structure, highlighting particular features of philosophical interest within each. Further, those features concern problems not exclusive to the philosophy of biology. Connections between them and, in two case studies, contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of physics demonstrate the potential value of broader collaboration in the understanding of evolution.

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