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Chance in Evolution$
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Grant Ramsey and Charles H. Pence

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226401744

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226401911.001.0001

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Chance and Chances in Darwin’s Early Theorizing and in Darwinian Theory Today

Chance and Chances in Darwin’s Early Theorizing and in Darwinian Theory Today

(p.41) Chapter 2 Chance and Chances in Darwin’s Early Theorizing and in Darwinian Theory Today
Chance in Evolution

Jonathan Hodge

University of Chicago Press

Darwin’s theorising about adaptive changes in branching descents invoked the same old-fashioned concepts of chance (accident) and chances (probabilities) before and after he first formulated his theory of natural selection. He was a determinist and materialist and held the venerable ignorance view of chance in both bodily and mental processes. His theory of natural section did give new causal roles to chance and chances in the cooperation of inherited variation and natural selection. The causal concept of selection – as non-accidental, non-fortuitous differential reproduction of hereditary variants – links Darwin’s theorising to current controversies over selectionist and neutralist views. Focusing on this conceptual continuity can clarify also what is historically convincing and philosophically cogent in recent statisticalist and causalist takes on selection and fitness, and in persistent quests for a general, explanatory and non-tautologous principle of natural selection.

Keywords:   chance, accident, probability, Charles Darwin, natural selection, genetic drift, fitness, force, statistics, causation

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