Variance, Selection and Evolutionary Explanation
This dissertation presents some of the first work written and published on the Zero Force Evolutionary Law (McShea and Brandon 2010). It is a collection of four philosophy of biology papers, which together, illustrate the importance of the Zero Force Evolutionary Law (ZFEL) spanning evolutionary studies. In particular, this dissertation includes issues in the history of philosophy of science (chapter 1), group formation and network theory (chapter 2), biological hierarchy and the major transitions in evolution (chapter 3), and the Price equation and quantifying evolutionary change (chapter 4). While these four chapters may differ in focus, they make the same general claim: evolutionary methods and explanations are improved when the underlying tendency of biological systems is characterized correctly as exhibiting increasing variance.
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