Article

Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 723-735

First online:

Puzzles for ZFEL, McShea and Brandon’s zero force evolutionary law

  • Martin BarrettAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, University of Wisconsin
  • , Hayley ClatterbuckAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, University of Wisconsin
  • , Michael GoldsbyAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, University of Wisconsin
  • , Casey HelgesonAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, University of Wisconsin
  • , Brian McLooneAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, University of Wisconsin
  • , Trevor PearceAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, University of Wisconsin
  • , Elliott SoberAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, University of Wisconsin Email author 
  • , Reuben SternAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, University of Wisconsin
  • , Naftali WeinbergerAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, University of Wisconsin

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Abstract

In their 2010 book, Biology’s First Law, D. McShea and R. Brandon present a principle that they call “ZFEL,” the zero force evolutionary law. ZFEL says (roughly) that when there are no evolutionary forces acting on a population, the population’s complexity (i.e., how diverse its member organisms are) will increase. Here we develop criticisms of ZFEL and describe a different law of evolution; it says that diversity and complexity do not change when there are no evolutionary causes.

Keywords

Biological laws Causation Complexity Drift Force Hardy–Weinberg Stasis