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

Publication ,  Journal Article
Brandon, RN; Carson, S
Published in: Philosophy of Science
January 1, 1996

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.

Duke Scholars

Published In

Philosophy of Science

DOI

ISSN

0031-8248

Publication Date

January 1, 1996

Volume

63

Issue

3

Start / End Page

315 / 337

Related Subject Headings

  • Science Studies
  • 2203 Philosophy
  • 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields
 

Citation

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Brandon, R. N., & Carson, S. (1996). The indeterministic character of evolutionary theory: No "No hidden variables proof" but no room for determinism either. Philosophy of Science, 63(3), 315–337. https://doi.org/10.1086/289915
Brandon, R. N., and S. Carson. “The indeterministic character of evolutionary theory: No "No hidden variables proof" but no room for determinism either.” Philosophy of Science 63, no. 3 (January 1, 1996): 315–37. https://doi.org/10.1086/289915.
Brandon, R. N., and S. Carson. “The indeterministic character of evolutionary theory: No "No hidden variables proof" but no room for determinism either.” Philosophy of Science, vol. 63, no. 3, Jan. 1996, pp. 315–37. Scopus, doi:10.1086/289915.
Journal cover image

Published In

Philosophy of Science

DOI

ISSN

0031-8248

Publication Date

January 1, 1996

Volume

63

Issue

3

Start / End Page

315 / 337

Related Subject Headings

  • Science Studies
  • 2203 Philosophy
  • 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields