Synthese 192 (11):3487-3507 (2015)

Authors
Hayley Clatterbuck
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Abstract
Several recent arguments by philosophers of biology have challenged the traditional view that evolutionary factors, such as drift and selection, are genuine causes of evolutionary outcomes. In the case of drift, advocates of the statistical theory argue that drift is merely the sampling error inherent in the other stochastic processes of evolution and thus denotes a mathematical, rather than causal, feature of populations. This debate has largely centered around one particular model of drift, the Wright–Fisher model, and this has contributed to the plausibility of the statisticalists’ arguments. However, an examination of alternative, predictively inequivalent models shows that drift is a genuine cause that can be manipulated to change population outcomes. This case study illustrates the influence of methodological assumptions on ontological judgments, particularly the pernicious effect of focusing on a particular model at the expense of others and confusing its assumptions and idealizations for true claims about the phenomena being modeled
Keywords Genetic drift  Wright–Fisher  Semantic view of theories   Population genetics  Evolution
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-014-0598-8
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References found in this work BETA

Evolution and the Levels of Selection.Samir Okasha - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?Marc Lange - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (3):485-511.

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Citations of this work BETA

Modeling: Neutral, Null, and Baseline.William C. Bausman - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (4):594-616.
Drift and Evolutionary Forces: Scrutinizing the Newtonian Analogy.Víctor J. Luque - 2016 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 31 (3):397-410.
Evolutionary causes as mechanisms: a critical analysis.Saúl Pérez-González & Victor J. Luque - 2019 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 41 (2):13.

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