[SydPhil] Invitation: USyd Postgrad Work in Progress Talk: Pierrick Bourrat @ Tue 30 Apr 2013 15:00 - 16:30 (sydphil at arts.usyd.edu.au)

Simon Varey simonvarey at gmail.com
Sat Apr 27 13:50:31 AEST 2013

You have been invited to the following event.

Title: USyd Postgrad Work in Progress Talk: Pierrick Bourrat
USyd Postgrad Work in Progress Talk: Pierrick Bourrat

What is natural selection?

Selection processes happen everywhere around us and more distinguishably in  
populations of organisms. Many scholars use the term “natural selection”  
but only a few of them define it clearly. Natural selection, like the word  
gene, has become a sort of free floating label. In this paper, I ask what  
is so distinctive about natural selection when compared to other forms of  
selection. I start by defining natural selection as a phenomenon occurring  
when a population of entities of different types have different fitness.  
This definition naturally calls for a definition of fitness. Yet, fitness  
is notoriously hard to pin down and relate to natural selection. I provide  
an analysis, which I claim succeeds, in pinning down the right concept of  
fitness to be associated with natural selection. Although this concept  
works perfectly well at the theoretical level it involves idealized  
assumptions that are never realized in real populations (e.g. unlimited  
population size). This leads me to conclude that natural selection is not a  
process but an idealized model: a description of what would happen ideally.  
I conclude that our claims about natural selection occurring in such or  
such population are merely claims about degrees of resemblance with this  
When: Tue 30 Apr 2013 15:00 – 16:30 Eastern Time - Melbourne, Sydney
Where: Philosophy Common Room, Main Quad, University of Sydney
Calendar: sydphil at arts.usyd.edu.au
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