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Why the Causal View of Fitness Survives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Abstract

We critically examine Denis Walsh's latest attack on the causalist view of fitness. Relying on Judea Pearl's Sure-Thing Principle and geneticist John Gillespie's model for fitness, Walsh has argued that the causal interpretation of fitness results in a reductio. We show that his conclusion only follows from misuse of the models, that is, (1) the disregard of the real biological bearing of the population-size parameter in Gillespie's model and (2) the confusion of the distinction between ordinary probability and Pearl's causal probability. Properly understood, the models used by Walsh do not threaten the causalist view of fitness.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Footnotes

We are grateful to the members of the Indiana University Biology Studies Reading Group, for discussions leading to this article, and to three anonymous referees, who provided helpful suggestions.

References

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