Article ID: CBB068013192

The Early History of Chance in Evolution (2015)


Work throughout the history and philosophy of biology frequently employs ‘chance’, ‘unpredictability’, ‘probability’, and many similar terms. One common way of understanding how these concepts were introduced in evolution focuses on two central issues: the first use of statistical methods in evolution (Galton), and the first use of the concept of “objective chance” in evolution (Wright). I argue that while this approach has merit, it fails to fully capture interesting philosophical reflections on the role of chance expounded by two of Galton's students, Karl Pearson and W.F.R. Weldon. Considering a question more familiar from contemporary philosophy of biology—the relationship between our statistical theories of evolution and the processes in the world those theories describe—is, I claim, a more fruitful way to approach both these two historical actors and the broader development of chance in evolution.

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Article Theodore Arabatzis; Don Howard (2015) Introduction: Integrated History and Philosophy of Science in Practice. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (pp. 1-3). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Magnello, M. Eileen
Porter, Theodore M.
Pritchard, Chris
Aldrich, John
Pence, Charles H.
Farrall, Lyndsay A.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
British Society for the History of Mathematics Bulletin
Science and Education
Social Studies of Science
British Journal for the History of Science
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Princeton University Press
Trafford Publishing
University of Maryland, College Park
Open University (United Kingdom)
Duke University
Probability and statistics
Pearson, Karl
Galton, Francis
Weldon, Walter Frank Raphael
Bateson, William
Darwin, Charles Robert
Mendel, Gregor Johann
Great Britain
British Isles
United States
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
18th century
17th century
Royal Society of London
Royal Statistical Society
Statistical Society of London

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