Probability and manipulation: Evolution and simulation in applied population genetics

Academic Article


  • I define a concept of causal probability and apply it to questions about the role of probability in evolutionary processes. Causal probability is defined in terms of manipulation of patterns in empirical outcomes by manipulating properties that realize objective probabilities. The concept of causal probability allows us see how probabilities characterized by different interpretations of probability can share a similar causal character, and does so in such way as to allow new inferences about relationships between probabilities realized in different chance setups. I clarify relations between probabilities and properties defined in terms of them, and argue that certain widespread uses of computer simulations in evolutionary biology show that many probabilities relevant to evolutionary outcomes are causal probabilities. This supports the claim that higher-level properties such as biological fitness and processes such as natural selection are causal properties and processes, contrary to what some authors have argued.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Abrams M
  • Start Page

  • 519
  • End Page

  • 549
  • Volume

  • 80
  • Issue

  • 3