, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 489-500

Darwinian spaces: Peter Godfrey-Smith on selection and evolution

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Darwinian populations

Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection is a superb work, introducing an important analytical technique, and applying it to a range of difficult and contested issues within evolutionary theory. The core idea of the book is that of a Darwinian Population (and, derivatively, a Darwinian individual). In developing this concept, Peter Godfrey-Smith builds on a long-standing tradition within evolutionary theory, that of developing a spare, bare-bones specification of the machine of selective change, both to better articulate the core causal processes of biological evolution, and to explore the possibility that selective regimes explain change in other domains (see also Okasha 2006). Godfrey-Smith’s ingredients are familiar: Darwinian Populations are populations of interacting individuals that (potentially) reproduce; that vary from one another in ways that sometimes influence their reproductive potential; and when reproduction does take place, offspring resemble the