Millstein, Roberta. Natural Selection as a Population-Level Causal Process
Abstract: Recent discussions in the philosophy of biology have brought into question some fundamental assumptions regarding evolutionary processes, natural selection in particular. Some authors argue that natural selection is nothing but a population-level, statistical consequence of lower-level events (Matthen and Ariew ; Walsh et al. ). On this view, natural selection itself does not involve forces. Other authors reject this purely statistical, population-level account for an individual-level, causal account of natural selection (Bouchard and Rosenberg ). I argue that each of these positions is right in one way, but wrong in another; natural selection indeed takes place at the level of populations, but it is a causal process nonetheless.
Comment: This would be useful in a course on the philosophy of science, the philosophy of biology, or in a section on causation in a course on metaphysics. The paper would be appropriate for undergraduate or graduate-level courses. It is quite long.