Article ID: CBB001210577

The Role of Randomness in Darwinian Evolution (2012)


Historically, one of the most controversial aspects of Darwinian evolution has been the prominent role that randomness and random change play in it. Most biologists agree that mutations in DNA have random effects on fitness. However, fitness is a highly simplified scalar representation of an enormously complex phenotype. Challenges to Darwinian thinking have focused on such complex phenotypes. Whether mutations affect such complex phenotypes randomly is ill understood. Here I discuss three very different classes of well-studied molecular phenotypes in which mutations cause nonrandom changes, based on our current knowledge. What is more, this nonrandomness facilitates evolutionary adaptation. Thus, living beings may translate DNA change into nonrandom phenotypic change that facilitates Darwinian evolution.

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Authors & Contributors
Regner, Anna Carolina Krebs Pereira
Lorenzano, Pablo
Martins, Lilian A.-C. Pereira
De Araújo, Aldo Mellender
Caponi, Gustavo
Caponi, Sandra
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Minerva: A Review of Science, Learning and Policy
Biological Theory
Science and Education
McGill-Queen's University Press
Oxford University Press
Associação de Filosofia e História da Ciência do Cone Sul
Fundo Mackenzie de Pesquisa
Cambridge University Press
The MIT Press
Philosophy of biology
Stochastic or random processes
Darwin, Charles Robert
Romanes, George John
Helmont, Jan Baptista van
Senebier, Jean
Jennings, Herbert Spencer
Wittgenstein, Ludwig
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
21st century
18th century
Great Britain

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