Putting Process and Product Conceptions of Natural Selection and Genetic Drift to the Test

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Pence, Charles H.
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This paper argues for two claims. First, despite a persistent appearance to the contrary in the philosophy of biology literature, the question of whether natural selection and genetic drift should be defined as processes or as the products (or outcomes) of those processes is independent of the question of whether natural selection and genetic drift are causally efficacious (the debate between the 'causalist' and 'statisticalist' interpretations of evolutionary theory). Second, there exist biological cases – cases which are quite prevalent in natural populations – that can be used to drive apart process and product notions of selection and drift, and hence which could provide evidence useful in determining which of these two classes of definitions is in line with biological practice. Two cases presented here weigh in favor of process definitions, though this does not suffice to resolve the question.