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Roberta L. Millstein
preprint description
The latter half of the twentieth century has been marked by debates in evolutionary biology over the relative significance of natural selection and random drift: the so-called neutralist/selectionist debates. Yet John Beatty has argued that it is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish the concept of random drift from the concept of natural selection, a claim that has been accepted by many philosophers of biology. If this claim is correct, then the neutralist/selectionist debates seem at best futile, and at worst, meaningless. I reexamine the issues that Beatty raises, and argue that random drift and natural selection, conceived as processes, can be distinguished from one another.

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