Adaptation, fitness and the selection-optimality links
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We critically examine a number of aspects of Grafen’s ‘formal Darwinism’ project. We argue that Grafen’s ‘selection-optimality’ links do not quite succeed in vindicating the working assumption made by behavioural ecologists and others—that selection will lead organisms to exhibit adaptive behaviour—since these links hold true even in the presence of strong genetic and developmental constraints. However we suggest that the selection-optimality links can profitably be viewed as constituting an axiomatic theory of fitness. Finally, we compare Grafen’s project with Fisher’s ‘fundamental theorem of natural selection’, and we speculate about whether Grafen’s results can be extended to a game-theoretic setting.
KeywordsFormal Darwinism Grafen Optimality Fitness Selection Adaptation
Thanks to Alan Grafen, Warren Ewens and Andy Gardner for discussion. SO was supported by the European Research Council Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007–2013), ERC Grant agreement no. 295449. CP was supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
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