# What was Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection and what was it for?

@article{Plutynski2006WhatWF, title={What was Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection and what was it for?}, author={Anya Plutynski}, journal={Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences}, year={2006}, volume={37 1}, pages={ 59-82 } }

Fisher's 'fundamental theorem of natural selection' is notoriously abstract, and, no less notoriously, many take it to be false. In this paper, I explicate the theorem, examine the role that it played in Fisher's general project for biology, and analyze why it was so very fundamental for Fisher. I defend and Lessard (1997) in the view that the theorem is in fact a true theorem if, as Fisher claimed, 'the terms employed' are 'used strictly as defined' (1930, p. 38). Finally, I explain the role… Expand

#### Topics from this paper

#### Paper Mentions

#### 30 Citations

Fisher's Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection—A Philosophical Analysis

- Philosophy
- The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
- 2008

This paper provides a philosophical analysis of the ongoing controversy surrounding R.A. Fisher's famous ‘fundamental theorem’ of natural selection. The difference between the ‘traditional’ and… Expand

Fundamental Theorems of Evolution

- Biology, Medicine
- The American Naturalist
- 2017

It is suggested that the most fundamental theorem of evolution is the Price equation, both because of its simplicity and broad scope and because it can be used to derive four other familiar results that are similarly fundamental: Fisher’s average-excess equation, Robertson's secondary theorem of natural selection, the breeder's equation, and Fisher's fundamental theorem. Expand

R.A. Fisher's gene‐centred view of evolution and the Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection

- Mathematics, Medicine
- Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
- 2014

The background to R.A. Fisher's enunciation of his Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection in 1930 is traced and the Theorem in its original form explained. It can now be seen as the centrepiece of… Expand

The fundamental theorem of natural selection with mutations

- Mathematics, Medicine
- Journal of mathematical biology
- 2018

This paper builds a differential equations model from Fisher’s first principles with mutations added, and proves a revised theorem showing the rate of change in mean fitness is equal to genetic variance plus a mutational effects term, referred to as the fundamental theorem of natural selection with mutations. Expand

Theorems of Natural Selection : Results of Price , Fisher , and Robertson

Is there some reorientation for the expression of natural selection that may provide subtle perspective, from which we can understand our subject more deeply and analyze our problems with greater… Expand

Natural selection and the maximization of fitness

- Biology, Medicine
- Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
- 2016

It may be a mistake to look for universal maximization principles justified by theory alone, but a more promising approach may be to find maximization Principles that apply conditionally and to show that the conditions were satisfied in the evolution of particular traits. Expand

Evolution and Directionality: Lessons from Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem

- Mathematics
- 2010

As is well-known, the second law of thermodynamics has the property of being ‘time asymmetric’, unlike for example the laws of Newtonian mechanics, which are time reversal-invariant. The second law… Expand

Neo-Paleyan biology.

- Medicine
- Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences
- 2019

There is a 'Neo-Paleyan' tradition in British evolutionary theorising, which began with Darwin and continues to the present day. This tradition conceives of adaptation in terms of design, and it… Expand

Neo-Darwinism and Evo-Devo: An Argument for Theoretical Pluralism in Evolutionary Biology

- Philosophy
- Perspectives on Science
- 2015

There is an ongoing debate over the relationship between so-called neo-Darwinism and evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) that is motivated in part by the possibility of a theoretical… Expand

"Describing our whole experience": the statistical philosophies of W. F. R. Weldon and Karl Pearson.

- Philosophy, Medicine
- Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences
- 2011

This work argues for two related theses in light of a reading of several sources in which Weldon, independently of Pearson, reflects on his own motivations, and has here a counterexample to the claim that divergence in motivation will lead to a corresponding separation in methodology. Expand

#### References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 50 REFERENCES

An interpretation and proof of the Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection.

- Mathematics, Medicine
- Theoretical population biology
- 1989

An interpretation of the Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection implies that it is correct as a mathematical statement, but of less biological value than was claimed by Fisher. Expand

Metaphysics and population genetics: Karl Pearson and the background to Fisher's multi-factorial theory of inheritance

- Philosophy
- 1975

Summary This paper traces the background to R. A. Fisher's multi-factorial theory of inheritance. It is argued that the traditional account is incomplete, and that Karl Pearson's well-known… Expand

The Nature of Selection: Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus

- Philosophy
- 1986

"The Nature of Selection" presents a powerful analysis of the evolutionary concepts of natural selection, fitness, and adaptation. The book clarifies controversial issues concerning altruism, group… Expand

On the change of population fitness by natural selection2 3

- Biology
- Heredity
- 1958

A general equation for the role of additive, dominance, and epistatic components of fitness in determining the rate of change in population fitness is given and claims that this law should hold the same position among the biological sciences as the second law of thermodynamics in physical sciences. Expand

“The Grammar of Science”

- Nature
- 1892

IT is very idle as a rule to criticize a critic, especially when he happens, like C. G. K., to be the disciple of a school which the author of the criticized work is gently laughing at throughout his… Expand

II. Remarks on variation in animals and plants. To accompany the first report of the committee for conducting statistical inquiries into the measurable characteristics of plants and animals

- Engineering
- Proceedings of the Royal Society of London
- 1985

1. The importance of variation as a factor in organic evolution is not seriously disputed; but, if one may judge from the expressions contained in recent essays, naturalists are not agreed as to the… Expand

Genetic Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

- Biology
- 1985

This book is a collection of essays selected by Edward Garher from Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. His aim was to choose "those essays which most effectively tell the story of the latter… Expand

Random Genetic Drift

- Computer Science
- 1980

Statement involving probability are apt to produce discomfort in the reader, a vague sense of entering through a shop door labelled “only abstractions sold here”, but this discomfort will be dispelled if the reader makes a practice of rewriting statements involving the word “probability” into rather more cumbersome statements about proportions. Expand

Darwinism Evolving: Systems Dynamics and the Genealogy of Natural Selection

- Biology
- 1994

This chapter discusses Darwinism as a research tradition, molecular biology, complex dynamics, and the future of Darwinism: the molecularrevolution expanding the synthesis - the modern synthesis responds to the molecular revolution developmental redivivus. Expand

A note on the background to, and refereeing of, R. A. Fisher’s 1918 paper ‘On the correlation between relatives on the supposition of Mendelian inheritance’

- Sociology, Medicine
- Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London
- 1976

The controversy between the biometricians W. F. R. Weldon and Karl Pearson on the one hand, and William Bateson and his fellow Mendelian theorists on the other, which came to a head after 1900, the… Expand