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The Theory of EvolutionPrinciples, Concepts, and Assumptions$
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Samuel M. Scheiner and David P. Mindell

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226671024

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226671338.001.0001

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Philosophy of Evolutionary Theory

Philosophy of Evolutionary Theory

Risky Inferences of Process from Pattern

(p.46) Three Philosophy of Evolutionary Theory
The Theory of Evolution

Patrick Forber

University of Chicago Press

An important task in philosophy of science is the analysis of testing methods deployed in different scientific disciplines. Evolutionary biology provides an excellent focal case because it aims to reconstruct the deep past by using a variety of methods. This chapter discusses the general philosophical challenges that face risky inferences to past evolutionary processes from extant patterns in biological populations and molecular sequences. Different methods for detecting phenotypic versus molecular signatures of selection are examined, and contrasting challenges facing different detection methods are identified. The chapter concludes that while the same evolutionary processes may operate across the biological hierarchy, they tend to leave different signatures on the phenotypic versus molecular levels.

Keywords:   philosophy of science, testing holism, phenotypic selection, molecular sequence, biological hierarchy

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