, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 419-437
Date: 16 Mar 2010

Evidentiary inference in evolutionary biology

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Introduction

The relationship between evidence and hypothesis provides the epistemic authority of empirical science. But standard statistical philosophies understand the relationship very differently, advancing incompatible inference methods that sometimes yield conflicting results about evidentiary support. These methodological tensions are manifested throughout evolutionary theory, from debates between Pearson and Fisher over biometry and chi-squared testing (Baird 1983; Morrison 2002), to recent controversies in phylogenetics about Bayesianism and model selection criteria (Ronquist 2004; Kelcher and Thomas 2007). This makes the clarity Sober brings to the subject scientifically valuable as well as philosophically illuminating. The wide variety of topics addressed and extensive utilization of technical work in statistics proper demonstrate mastery over the difficult issues involved.

Evidence and Evolution compiles and integrates many of Sober’s recent publications. Chapter 1 outlines f