•  336
    Two ways of thinking about fitness and natural selection
    Journal of Philosophy 99 (2): 55-83. 2002.
    How do fitness and natural selection relate to other evolutionary factors like architectural constraint, mode of reproduction, and drift? In one way of thinking, drawn from Newtonian dynamics, fitness is one force driving evolutionary change and added to other factors. In another, drawn from statistical thermodynamics, it is a statistical trend that manifests itself in natural selection histories. It is argued that the first model is incoherent, the second appropriate; a hierarchical realization…Read more
  •  233
    Lorenz proposed in his (1935) articulation of a theory of behavioral instincts that the objective of ethology is to distinguish behaviors that are “innate” from behaviors that are “learned” (or “acquired”). Lorenz’s motive was to open the investigation of certain “adaptive” behaviors to evolutionary theorizing. Accordingly, since innate behaviors are “genetic”, they are open to such investigation. By Lorenz’s light an innate/acquired or learned dichotomy rested on a familiar Darwinian distinctio…Read more
  •  226
    The trials of life: Natural selection and random drift
    Philosophy of Science 69 (3): 452-473. 2002.
    We distinguish dynamical and statistical interpretations of evolutionary theory. We argue that only the statistical interpretation preserves the presumed relation between natural selection and drift. On these grounds we claim that the dynamical conception of evolutionary theory as a theory of forces is mistaken. Selection and drift are not forces. Nor do selection and drift explanations appeal to the (sub-population-level) causes of population level change. Instead they explain by appeal to the …Read more
  •  221
    Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology (edited book)
    with Robert Cummins and Mark Perlman
    Oxford University Press. 2002.
    But what are functions? Here, 15 leading scholars of philosophy of psychology and philosophy of biology present new essays on functions.
  •  205
    The confusions of fitness
    with Richard C. Lewontin
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2): 347-363. 2004.
    The central point of this essay is to demonstrate the incommensurability of ‘Darwinian fitness’ with the numeric values associated with reproductive rates used in population genetics. While sometimes both are called ‘fitness’, they are distinct concepts coming from distinct explanatory schemes. Further, we try to outline a possible answer to the following question: from the natural properties of organisms and a knowledge of their environment, can we construct an algorithm for a particular kind o…Read more
  •  153
    In Chapter Five of The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way, Jerry Fodor argues that since it is likely that human minds evolved quickly as saltations rather than gradually as the product of an accumulation of small mutations, evolutionary psychologists are wrong to think that human minds are adaptations. I argue that Fodor’s requirement that adaptationism entails gradualism is wrongheaded. So, while evolutionary psychologists may be wrong to endorse gradualism—and I argue that they are wrong—it does not …Read more
  •  140
    How to understand casual relations in natural selection: Reply to Rosenberg and Bouchard (review)
    Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3): 355-364. 2005.
    In “Two Ways of Thinking About Fitness and Natural Selection” (Matthen and Ariew [2002]; henceforth “Two Ways”), we asked how one should think of the relationship between the various factors invoked to explain evolutionary change – selection, drift, genetic constraints, and so on. We suggested that these factors are not related to one another as “forces” are in classical mechanics. We think it incoherent, for instance, to think of natural selection and drift as separate and opposed “forces” in e…Read more
  •  111
    What Fitness Can’t Be
    with Zachary Ernst
    Erkenntnis 71 (3): 289-301. 2009.
    Recently advocates of the propensity interpretation of fitness have turned critics. To accommodate examples from the population genetics literature they conclude that fitness is better defined broadly as a family of propensities rather than the propensity to contribute descendants to some future generation. We argue that the propensity theorists have misunderstood the deeper ramifications of the examples they cite. These examples demonstrate why there are factors outside of propensities that det…Read more
  •  64
    Under the influence of Malthus's law of population growth: Darwin eschews the statistical techniques of Aldolphe Quetelet
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 38 (1): 1-19. 2005.
    In the epigraph, Fisher is blaming two generations of theoretical biologists, from Darwin on, for ignoring Quetelet's statistical techniques and hence harboring confusions about evolution and natural selection. He is right to imply that Darwin and his contemporaries were aware of the core of Quetelet's work. Quetelet's seminal monograph, Sur L'homme, was widely discussed in Darwin's academic circles. We know that Darwin owned a copy (Schweber 1977). More importantly, we have in Darwin's notebook…Read more
  •  7
    Growing up in portugal: Cape verdean ancestry children exhibit low overweight and obesity compared with portuguese in urban lisbon
    with C. Padez, V. Rosado-Marques, P. L. Griffiths, and M. I. Varela-Silva
    Journal of Biosocial Science 49 (6): 842-857. 2017.
    Portugal has one of the highest rates of childhood overweight and obesity in Europe. However, little is known about the health of ethnic minorities living in its capital city, Lisbon. The Cape Verdean community in Lisbon tend to have low educational levels, material deprivation and struggle with discrimination and racism, factors that would probably be associated with a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity. Data for the Cape Verdean population were collected in three different time period…Read more