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Population Genetics

Millstein, Roberta L. and Skipper, Robert A. (2006) Population Genetics. [Preprint]

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    Abstract

    Population genetics attempts to measure the influence of the causes of evolution, viz., mutation, migration, natural selection, and random genetic drift, by understanding the way those causes change the genetics of populations. But how does it accomplish this goal? After a short introduction, we begin in section (2) with a brief historical outline of the origins of population genetics. In section (3), we sketch the model theoretic structure of population genetics, providing the flavor of the ways in which population genetics theory might be understood as incorporating causes. In sections (4) and (5) we discuss two specific problems concerning the relationship between population genetics and evolutionary causes, viz., the problem of conceptually distinguishing natural selection from random genetic drift, and the problem of interpreting fitness. In section (6), we briefly discuss the methodology and key epistemological problems faced by population geneticists in uncovering the causes of evolution. Section (7) of the essay contains concluding remarks.


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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: Forthcoming in the Cambridge Companion to the Philosophy of Biology, edited by D. Hull and M. Ruse, Cambridge University Press.
    Keywords: population genetics, evolution, natural selection, random drift, causes
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
    Specific Sciences > Biology
    General Issues > Causation
    Depositing User: Dr. Roberta L. Millstein
    Date Deposited: 21 May 2006
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:14
    Item ID: 2746
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/2746

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