Article ID: CBB670708995

Chances and Propensities in Evo-Devo (2022)


While the notion of chance has been central in discussions over the probabilistic nature of natural selection and genetic drift, its role in the production of variants on which populational sampling takes place has received much less philosophical attention. This article discusses the concept of chance in evolution in the light of contemporary work in evo-devo. We distinguish different levels at which randomness and chance can be defined in this context, and argue that recent research on variability and evolvability demands a causal understanding of variational probabilities under which development acquires a creative, rather than a constraining role in evolution. We then provide a propensity interpretation of variational probabilities that solves a conceptual confusion between causal properties, variational probabilities and extant variation present in the literature, and explore some metaphysical consequences that follow from our interpretation, specifically with regards to the nature of developmental types.

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Authors & Contributors
McLoone, Brian
Louis, Ard A.
Conley, Brandon A.
Fábregas-Tejeda, Alejandro
Christopher Lean
Delgado, Abigail Nieves
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Biology and Philosophy
Perspectives on Science
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Science and Education
University of Pittsburgh Press
Fundo Mackenzie de Pesquisa
Philosophy of biology
Evolutionary developmental biology
Variation (biology)
Darwin, Charles Robert
Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Antoine Pierre de Monet de
Böker, Hans
Tinbergen, Nikolaas
Stepan, Nancy Leys
Senebier, Jean
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, late
20th century
21st century
18th century
20th century, early
Human Genome Project

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