Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 281–292 | Cite as

The formal darwinism project in outline: response to commentaries

  • Alan GrafenEmail author


The broader context for the formal darwinism project established by two of the commentators, in terms of reconciling the Modern Synthesis with Darwinian arguments over design and in terms of links to other types of selection and design, is discussed and welcomed. Some overselling of the project is admitted, in particular of whether it claims to consider all organic design. One important fundamental question raised in two commentaries is flagged but not answered of whether design is rightly represented by an optimisation program, and another from one commentary of whether the coreplicon dissolves in the face of multi-generational imprinting. Calls for the project to be extended to design at levels above and below the individual are considered sympathetically, but judged impractical at the high level of abstraction of the project. All claims of substantive technical error are emphatically rejected. Close technical readings are welcomed that, among other things, represent the project as 'axiomatizing fitness'. The prospects for the project are set out in the light of this highly varied set of commentaries.


Formal darwinism Fitness maximisation Modern synthesis Biological design Population genetics Natural selection 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St John’s CollegeOxfordUK

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