What Is Drift? A Response to Millstein, Skipper, and Dietrich

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Philosophy and Theory in Biology, ISSN: 1949-0739, Vol: 2, Issue: 20170609, Page: 1-6

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Matthen, Mohan
University of Michigan Library; Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library
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The statistical interpretation of the Theory of Natural Selection claims that natural selection and drift are statistical features of mathematical aggregates of individual-level events. Natural selection and drift are not themselves causes. The statistical interpretation is motivated by a metaphysical conception of individual priority. Recently, Millstein, Skipper, and Dietrich (2009) have argued (a) that natural selection and drift are physical processes, and (b) that the statistical interpretation rests on a misconception of the role of mathematics in biology. Both theses are contested.