The indeterministic character of evolutionary theory: No "No hidden variables proof" but no room for determinism either

Published

Journal Article

In this paper we first briefly review Bell's (1964, 1966) Theorem to see how it invalidates any deterministic "hidden variable" account of the apparent indeterminacy of quantum mechanics (QM). Then we show that quantum uncertainty, at the level of DNA mutations, can "percolate" up to have major populational effects. Interesting as this point may be it does not show any autonomous indeterminism of the evolutionary process. In the next two sections we investigate drift and natural selection as the locus of autonomous biological indeterminacy. Here we conclude that the population-level indeterminacy of natural selection and drift are ultimately based on the assumption of a fundamental indeterminacy at the level of the lives and deaths of individual organisms. The following section examines this assumption and defends it from the determinists' attack. Then we show that, even if one rejects the assumption, there is still an important reason why one might think evolutionary theory (ET) is autonomously indeterministic. In the concluding section we contrast the arguments we have mounted against a deterministic hidden variable account of ET with the proof of the impossibility of such an account of QM.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Brandon, RN; Carson, S

Published Date

  • January 1, 1996

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 63 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 315 - 337

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0031-8248

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1086/289915

Citation Source

  • Scopus