Chapter

Chances and causes in evolutionary biology: How many chances become one chance

Roberta L. Millstein

in Causality in the Sciences

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199574131
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728921 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574131.003.0020
Chances and causes in evolutionary biology: How many chances become one chance

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As a number of biologists and philosophers have emphasized, ‘chance’ has multiple meanings in evolutionary biology. Seven have been identified. The chapter argues that there is a unified concept of chance underlying these seven, which the chapter calls the UCC (Unified Chance Concept). The chapter argues that each is characterized by which causes are considered, ignored, or prohibited. Thus, chance in evolutionary biology can only be understood through understanding the causes at work. The UCC aids in comparing the different concepts and allows us to characterize our concepts of chance in probabilistic terms, i.e. provides a way to translate between ‘chance’ and ‘probability’.

Keywords: chance; coincidence; contingency; design; determinism; discriminate sampling; evolutionary biology; indeterminism; indiscriminate sampling; natural selection; probability; random drift

Chapter.  8683 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Logic

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