Philosopher of biology: Darwinian natural selection is a poor predictor of evolutionary success
|August 28, 2017||Posted by News under Darwinism, Evolution, Intelligent Design|
Musing on Means: Fitness, Expectation and the Principles of Natural Selection
How to measure fitness in the theory of natural selection? A fitness measure that has been proposed in both the biological and the philosophical literature is the expected relative reproductive success. The aim of this paper is to examine the relationship between expected relative reproductive success and future actual evolutionary success. Doing so will not only clarify the use of expected relative reproductive success as a fitness measure but also shed light on the role of fitness in the theory of natural selection.
2 The Role of Fitness
3 Geometric Mean versus Expected Relative Reproductive Success
5 Reconciliation Continued
6 Alternative Justifications
In this paper I examined the use of the expected relative reproductive success as a fitness measure. In particular, I explored the predictive power of the expected change in frequency in the next generation both in the short and the long term and argued that this measure is generally a poor predictor of evolutionary success. Based on Grafen’s work, I introduced two alternative readings of expected relative reproductive success. I argued that while the infinite limit of the expected change in frequency in (Grafen ) sits well with the role of fitness described by PNS, the expected reproductive value in (Grafen ) does not naturally induce a fitness measure playing the role of fitness characterized by PNS. Finally, I considered the idea that the expected relative reproductive success in the next generation is a primitive concept that defies the need of any justification in terms of predicting evolutionary success. While the latter defence is logically coherent, it is incompatible with a tradition in the philosophy of biology that assigns a central role to PNS in the characterisation of fitness.More.
See also: Could “dark DNA” change the way we think about evolution?