Existence and the Mathematics of Selection

John O. Reiss

in Not by Design

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780520258938
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944404 | DOI:
Existence and the Mathematics of Selection

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Darwin's separation between adaptedness and existence entered into modern evolutionary theory at its root, in the population genetics work of Sewall Wright and J. B. S. Haldane. This chapter shows how the teleological aspect of Darwin's theory was translated into the mathematical language of population genetics, particularly by Sewall Wright. This teleology is exemplified by Wright's metaphor of the adaptive landscape; it is absent from R. A. Fisher's fundamental theorem. The chapter also examines the debate over genetic load, showing that the separation of adaptedness from existence is transferred to the mathematical theory most directly in the form of confusion between absolute and relative fitness.

Keywords: adaptedness; Sewall Wright; Haldane; population genetics; adaptive landscape; R. A. Fisher; fundamental theorem; genetic load; absolute fitness; relative fitness

Chapter.  15298 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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