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Population Genetics

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


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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
Millstein, Roberta L.
Skipper, Robert A.
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 15:14
Item ID: 2746

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