Is indeterminism the source of the statistical character of evolutionary theory?


Journal Article

We argue that Brandon and Carson's (1996) "The Indeterministic Character of Evolutionary Theory" fails to identify any indeterminism that would require evolutionary theory to be a statistical or probabilistic theory. Specifically, we argue that (1) their demonstration of a mechanism by which quantum indeterminism might "percolate up" to the biological level is irrelevant; (2) their argument that natural selection is indeterministic because it is inextricably connected with drift fails to join the issue with determinism; and (3) their view that experimental methodology in botany assumes indeterminism is both false and incompatible with the commitment to discoverable causal mechanisms underlying biological processes. We remain convinced that the probabilism of the theory of evolution is epistemically, not ontologically, motivated.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Graves, L; Horan, BL; Rosenberg, A

Published Date

  • January 1, 1999

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 66 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 140 - 157

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0031-8248

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1086/392680

Citation Source

  • Scopus