Quantum indeterminism and evolutionary biology

Philosophy of Science 68 (2):164-184 (2001)
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Abstract

In "The Indeterministic Character of Evolutionary Theory: No 'Hidden Variables Proof' But No Room for Determinism Either," Brandon and Carson (1996) argue that evolutionary theory is statistical because the processes it describes are fundamentally statistical. In "Is Indeterminism the Source of the Statistical Character of Evolutionary Theory?" Graves, Horan, and Rosenberg (1999) argue in reply that the processes of evolutionary biology are fundamentally deterministic and that the statistical character of evolutionary theory is explained by epistemological rather than ontological considerations. In this paper I focus on the topic of mutation. By focusing on some of the theory and research on this topic from early to late, I show how quantum indeterminism hooks up to point mutations (via tautomeric shifts, proton tunneling, and aqueous thermal motion). I conclude with a few thoughts on some of the wider implications of this topic

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