Fitness as primitive and propensity

Philosophy of Science 53 (3):412-418 (1986)
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Abstract

In several places we have argued that ‘fitness’ is a primitive term with respect to the theory of evolution properly understood. These arguments have relied heavily on the axiomatization of the theory provided by one of us. In contrast, both John Beatty and Robert Brandon have separately argued for a “propensity“ interpretation of “fitness” ; and in Brandon and Beatty they attack our view that “fitness“ is a primitive term in evolutionary theory, concluding that a definition by way of propensities is possible and preferable. Here we reply to their criticisms, and argue that, at most, the view that fitness is a statistical propensity is a terminological variant on our thesis that it is a primitive in evolutionary theory.

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Alex Rosenberg
Duke University

Citations of this work

Four Pillars of Statisticalism.Denis M. Walsh, André Ariew & Mohan Matthen - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (1):1-18.
Fitness: static or dynamic?Peter Takacs & Pierrick Bourrat - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (4):1-20.
Evolution.Roberta L. Millstein - 2017 - Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy.
A causal dispositional account of fitness.Laura Nuño de la Rosa & Vanessa Triviño - 2016 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 38 (3).

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References found in this work

The propensity interpretation of fitness.Susan K. Mills & John H. Beatty - 1979 - Philosophy of Science 46 (2):263-286.
Adaptation and Evolutionary Theory.Robert N. Brandon - 1978 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 9 (3):181.
The supervenience of biological concepts.Alexander Rosenberg - 1978 - Philosophy of Science 45 (3):368-386.
Fitness.Alexander Rosenberg - 1983 - Journal of Philosophy 80 (8):457-473.
Fitness (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).A. Rosenberg & F. Bouchard - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web 17 (8):457-473.

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