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Is Genetic Drift a Force?

Pence, Charles H. (2016) Is Genetic Drift a Force? [Preprint]

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Abstract

One hotly debated philosophical question in the analysis of evolutionary theory concerns whether or not evolution and the various factors which constitute it (selection, drift, mutation, and so on) may profitably be considered as analogous to “forces” in the traditional, Newtonian sense. Several compelling arguments assert that the force picture is incoherent, due to the peculiar nature of genetic drift. I consider two of those arguments here – that drift lacks a predictable direction, and that drift is constitutive of evolutionary systems – and show that they both fail to demonstrate that a view of genetic drift as a force is untenable. I go on to diagnose the reasons for the stubborn persistence of this problem, considering two open philosophical issues and offering some preliminary arguments in support of the force metaphor.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Pence, Charles H.charles@charlespence.net
Keywords: evolutionary theory, genetic drift, force, causation, Brownian motion
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Causation
Depositing User: Charles H. Pence
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2016 15:32
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2016 12:06
Item ID: 11881
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Causation
Date: 21 January 2016
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11881

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