Modelling Evolution : A New Dynamic Account book cover
1st Edition

Modelling Evolution
A New Dynamic Account

ISBN 9780367360047
Published September 5, 2019 by Routledge
145 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Evolution by natural selection explains the tree of life and the complex adaptations found throughout nature. The power and versatility of evolutionary explanations have proved tempting to scientists outside of biology, but adapting evolutionary concepts to new domains has been challenging. Even within biology, there are many difficult questions and problem cases that face evolutionary theory.

Modelling Evolution offers a new, general account of evolution by natural selection that identifies the essential features of evolutionary models that transcend any particular discipline. Evolution by natural selection in its broad sense is the systemic advantage of a type, in contrast to the narrow definition using heritable variation in fitness. This account is explained, contextualised and applied to a variety of questions in both biology and the social sciences.

Offering an accessible and comprehensive account of evolution that is applicable both to biology and the broader social sciences, Modelling Evolution will appeal to students and researchers interested in fields such as biology, economics, sociology, history, and psychology.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Basic Evolutionary Concepts

Adaptation, fitness

And dandelions

Chance and basketball

Types and individuals


The original recipe

Systemic advantage of a type


Collections of individuals

Traits and types

Evolutionary Processes

In General

The Bias

Processes in Population Genetics

Selection as process

Selection v. Drift

Chance and Lightning

Discriminate v. Indiscriminate

Fixation in the population via drifty discriminate sampling

Expected and unexpected

Expecting the unexpected

Process vs. Outcome

The Evolutionary System


Chapter 2: The History of the Evolutionary Idea

Pausing for Context


Variation and heredity


What evolves

Darwin’s Evolutionary Processes


Evolution: Selection vs. Mutation

Fisher and fitness

Heredity, mutation, and genes

Adaptation and Heredity


The definition of evolution by natural selection

Segregation distortion and multilevel selection

Individual fitness and group fitness


Evolutionary forces

Fitness: Early Sober and Fisher compared

The Neodynamical account


Chapter 3: Evolutionary Forces

From Process to Force

The causal hierarchy

Functions of Time and Continuity

Causal variables vs. processes

Force Models

The three basic types of evolutionary force



Broad Selection

Heredity and Evolution by Natural Selection

Selection for traits and context dependence

Types of Drift


Chapter 4: Multilevel Selection


The evolutionary transitions from individual to part

Fungi and biological individuals


Kin Selection

Multilevel selection a la Lewontin

MLS 1, MLS 2, and contextual analysis

Contextual analysis and mus muscula

Three kinds of multilevel evolutionary models

More distinctions? Yes indeed

Multilevel Fitness models

Multilevel Force models

Multilevel Trait models


Chapter 5: Cultural Evolution


The specter of biologism

The problem with replicators

Cultural Traits

Reproduction in Cultural Evolution


Boyd and Richerson

Looking at a model: farming practices

Lamarck and Technological Evolution

Novelty and guided variation (in evolutionary economics)


This could be important

For example in sociology


Chapter 6: Multilevel Social Evolution


Human groups and cultural individuals

Altruism in human societies

An extended illustration

Turchin on the historical evolution of egalitarianism


An alternative, multilevel approach

A model of multilevel cultural macroevolution

Developing the schema

Evaluating and adjusting

Specifying and Analysing


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Eugene Earnshaw teaches History of Western Civilization, Sociology and Critical Thinking in the Liberal Arts program, Seneca College, Toronto, Canada