This is all about WFR Weldon (1860–1906), British invertebrate zoologist and one of the pioneer theorists of mathematical biology, developing with Francis Galton and Karl Pearson the first mathematical approaches to natural selection. (also: Western movie stock character) 2/
My tendentious claim here is that this shift mirrors a recent philosophical debate over causation in natural selection. How should we understand the relationship between physiological details and population-level statistical parameters?
Weldon starts out convinced that those physiological details don't matter (everything is a question of arithmetic, remember!), but when confronted with a real evolutionary situation, he realizes he has to support that with causal, physiological detail. 7/
This is the first "side project" paper to come out of my history of the period that's almost entirely submitted to the publisher – for more details, check out this paper, a hopeful two further articles to come, and the book! https://blog.pencelab.be/2021/the-rise-of-chance-in-evolutionary-theory-under-contract/ 8/8
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