- The Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy
- List of Contributors
- Introduction
- Probability for Everyone—Even Philosophers
- Pre-history of Probability
- Probability in 17th- and 18th-century Continental Europe from the Perspective of Jacob Bernoulli’s <i>Art of Conjecturing</i>
- Probability and Its Application in Britain during the 17th and 18th Centuries
- A Brief History of Probability Theory from 1810 to 1940
- The Origins of Modern Statistics: The English Statistical School
- The Origins of Probabilistic Epistemology: Some Leading 20th-century Philosophers of Probability
- Kolmogorov’s Axiomatization and Its Discontents
- Conditional Probability
- The Bayesian Network Story
- Mathematical Alternatives to Standard Probability that Provide Selectable Degrees of Precision
- Probability and Nonclassical Logic
- A Logic of Comparative Support: Qualitative Conditional Probability Relations Representable by Popper Functions
- Imprecise and Indeterminate Probabilities
- Symmetry Arguments in Probability
- Frequentism
- Subjectivism
- Bayesianism vs. Frequentism in Statistical Inference
- The Propensity Interpretation
- Best System Approaches to Chance
- Probability and Randomness
- Chance and Determinism
- Human Understandings of Probability
- Probability Elicitation
- Probabilistic Opinion Pooling
- Quantum Probability: An Introduction
- Probabilities in Statistical Mechanics
- Probability in Biology: The Case of Fitness
- Probability in Epistemology
- Confirmation Theory
- Self-Locating Credences
- Probability in Logic
- Probability in Ethics
- Probability and the Philosophy of Religion
- Probability in Philosophy of Language
- Decision Theory
- Probabilistic Causation
- Name Index
- Subject Index

## Abstract and Keywords

I examine the concept of “fitness” in the philosophy of evolutionary biology to show how discussions of probability in biology can go wrong, and right. Many of the critiques of the propensity interpretation of fitness have focused on the mathematical aspects of fitness; re-focusing on several aspects of the propensity interpretation of probability more generally can help to address these concerns. I conclude with some general lessons for thinking about probability in biology. The propensity interpretation of fitness, properly understood, solves the explanatory circularity problem and the mismatch problem, andalso withstands many other problems. Fitness is the propensity for organisms to survive and reproduce in particular environments and in particular populations. Fitness values can be described in terms of distributions of propensities and can be modeled for any number of generations using computer simulations. Fitness is a causal concept. Relative fitness is what matters for natural selection.

Keywords: probability, biology, fitness, natural selection, propensity interpretation, Mills, Beatty, Finsen, Gillespie, Rice

Roberta Millstein, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Davis

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- The Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy
- List of Contributors
- Introduction
- Probability for Everyone—Even Philosophers
- Pre-history of Probability
- Probability in 17th- and 18th-century Continental Europe from the Perspective of Jacob Bernoulli’s <i>Art of Conjecturing</i>
- Probability and Its Application in Britain during the 17th and 18th Centuries
- A Brief History of Probability Theory from 1810 to 1940
- The Origins of Modern Statistics: The English Statistical School
- The Origins of Probabilistic Epistemology: Some Leading 20th-century Philosophers of Probability
- Kolmogorov’s Axiomatization and Its Discontents
- Conditional Probability
- The Bayesian Network Story
- Mathematical Alternatives to Standard Probability that Provide Selectable Degrees of Precision
- Probability and Nonclassical Logic
- A Logic of Comparative Support: Qualitative Conditional Probability Relations Representable by Popper Functions
- Imprecise and Indeterminate Probabilities
- Symmetry Arguments in Probability
- Frequentism
- Subjectivism
- Bayesianism vs. Frequentism in Statistical Inference
- The Propensity Interpretation
- Best System Approaches to Chance
- Probability and Randomness
- Chance and Determinism
- Human Understandings of Probability
- Probability Elicitation
- Probabilistic Opinion Pooling
- Quantum Probability: An Introduction
- Probabilities in Statistical Mechanics
- Probability in Biology: The Case of Fitness
- Probability in Epistemology
- Confirmation Theory
- Self-Locating Credences
- Probability in Logic
- Probability in Ethics
- Probability and the Philosophy of Religion
- Probability in Philosophy of Language
- Decision Theory
- Probabilistic Causation
- Name Index
- Subject Index