Are Probabilities Necessary For Evolutionary Explanations?

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Several philosophers of science have advanced an instrumentalist thesis about the use of probabilities in evolutionary biology. I investigate the consequences of instrumentalism on evolutionary explanations. I take issue with Barbara Horan's (1994) argument that probabilities are unnecessary to explain evolutionary change given the underlying deterministic character of evolutionary processes. First, I question Horan's deterministic assumption. Then, I attempt to undermine her Laplacian argument by demonstrating that whether probabilities are necessary depends upon the sort of questions one is asking.

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