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Coming to Terms with Chance in Evolution

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posted on 09.01.2020, 13:38 authored by Charles PenceCharles Pence
Discussions of `chance' and other related concepts (such as 'stochasticity', 'randomness', 'indeterminism', etc.) are found throughout philosophical work on evolutionary theory. By focusing on three commonly recognized distinctions, I identify four 'chance'-like concepts: randomness, subjective unpredictability, collapsible objective chance, and non-collapsible objective chance. These are not, however, merely semantic distinctions: it is demonstrated that conflation of these clearly separate notions undermines widely-cited arguments in the philosophy of biology -- particularly, in the debate over the interpretation of fitness, natural selection, and genetic drift.