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Causality in the Sciences$
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Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo, and Jon Williamson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199574131

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199574131.001.0001

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Chances and causes in evolutionary biology: How many chances become one chance

Chances and causes in evolutionary biology: How many chances become one chance

(p.425) 20 Chances and causes in evolutionary biology: How many chances become one chance
Causality in the Sciences

Roberta L. Millstein

Oxford University Press

As a number of biologists and philosophers have emphasized, ‘chance’ has multiple meanings in evolutionary biology. Seven have been identified. The chapter argues that there is a unified concept of chance underlying these seven, which the chapter calls the UCC (Unified Chance Concept). The chapter argues that each is characterized by which causes are considered, ignored, or prohibited. Thus, chance in evolutionary biology can only be understood through understanding the causes at work. The UCC aids in comparing the different concepts and allows us to characterize our concepts of chance in probabilistic terms, i.e. provides a way to translate between ‘chance’ and ‘probability’.

Keywords:   chance, coincidence, contingency, design, determinism, discriminate sampling, evolutionary biology, indeterminism, indiscriminate sampling, natural selection, probability, random drift

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