Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Agents and Goals in Evolution$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Samir Okasha

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198815082

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198815082.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 June 2020

Wright’s Adaptive Landscape, Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem

Wright’s Adaptive Landscape, Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem

(p.73) 3 Wright’s Adaptive Landscape, Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem
Agents and Goals in Evolution

Samir Okasha

Oxford University Press

Fitness maximization, or optimization, is a controversial idea in evolutionary biology. One classical formulation of this idea is that natural selection will tend to push a population up a peak in an adaptive landscape, as Sewall Wright first proposed. However, the hill-climbing property only obtains under particular conditions, and even then the ascent is not usually by the steepest route; this shows why it is misleading to assimilate the process of natural selection to a process of goal-directed choice. A different formulation of the idea of fitness-maximization is R. A. Fisher’s ‘fundamental theorem of natural selection’. However, the theorem points only to a weak sense in which selection is an optimizing process, for it requires that ‘environmental constancy’ be understood in a highly specific way. It does not vindicate the claim that natural selection has an intrinsic tendency to produce adaptation.

Keywords:   adaptive landscape, Sewall Wright, hill-climbing, R. A. Fisher, fundamental theorem, fitness, optimization

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .