Models of Mechanisms: The Case of the Replicator Dynamics

  • Till Grüne-Yanoff
Part of the History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences book series (HPTL, volume 3)


The general replicator dynamics (RD) is a formal equation that is used in biology to represent biological mechanisms and in the social sciences to represent social mechanisms. For either of these purposes, I show that substantial idealisations have to be made – idealisations that differ for the respective disciplines. These create a considerable idealisation gap between the biologically interpreted RD and the learning interpretations of the RD. I therefore argue that these interpretations represent different mechanisms, even though they are interpretations of the same formal RD equation. Furthermore, I argue that this idealisation gap between the biological and economic models is too wide for the respective mechanisms to share a common abstract causal structure that could be represented by the general RD model.


Mixed Strategy Pure Strategy Causal Structure Biological Interpretation Replicator Dynamic 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Avdelningen för FilosofiRoyal Institute of Technology (KTH)StockholmSweden

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