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Chances and Propensities in Evo-devo

Nuño de la Rosa, Laura and Villegas, Cristina (2019) Chances and Propensities in Evo-devo. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.


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While the notion of chance has been central in discussions over the probabilistic nature of natural selection and genetic drift, its role in the production of variants on which populational sampling takes place has received much less philosophical attention. This paper discusses the concept of chance in evolution in the light of contemporary work in evo-devo. We distinguish different levels at which randomness and chance can be defined in this context, and argue that recent research on variability and evolvability demands a causal understanding of variational probabilities under which development acquires a creative, rather than a constraining role in evolution. We then provide a propensity interpretation of variational probabilities that solves a conceptual confusion between causal properties, variational probabilities and extant variation present in the literature, and explore some metaphysical consequences that follow from our interpretation, specifically with regards to the nature of developmental types.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Nuño de la Rosa, Lauralauranun@ucm.es0000-0003-0513-0077
Villegas, Cristinacrvilleg@ucm.es0000-0002-6402-5288
Keywords: Evolutionary chance, evo-devo, variability, evolvability, random variation
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Depositing User: Cristina Villegas
Date Deposited: 23 Dec 2019 06:39
Last Modified: 23 Dec 2019 06:39
Item ID: 16740
Journal or Publication Title: The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1093/bjps/axz048
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Date: October 2019

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