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The EnvironmentPhilosophy, Science, and Ethics$
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William P. Kabasenche, Michael O'Rourke, and Matthew H. Slater

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780262017404

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262017404.001.0001

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The Concept of the Environment in Evolutionary Theory

The Concept of the Environment in Evolutionary Theory

(p.19) 2 The Concept of the Environment in Evolutionary Theory
The Environment

Robert N. Brandon

The MIT Press

This chapter begins with a definition of adaptation, which is a core tenet of evolutionary biology. Adaptation is always adaptation to an environment since it does not make sense as an abstract term. It is defined as the process in which an organism fits into its environment; it is a process that explains evolution. Organisms better fitted to their environment reproduce at higher rates than those less fit, leading to an increase in number for the fitter organisms in subsequent generations. The goal of this chapter is to clearly explain a concept of environment that fits the explanatory needs of the theory of evolution by natural selection. The isomorphism between the biological problem of finding an explanatory concept of environment within the context of the theory of natural selection and the much more general problem within probability theory—the reference class problem—is clarified here.

Keywords:   adaptation, evolutionary biology, theory of evolution, natural selection, isomorphism, probability theory, reference class problem

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