Talk: Reconceiving Evolvability – A Novel Analysis Using Conditional Probability, by Rachael Brown (8 Feb 2011)

Philosophy Seminar Series: 8 February 2011, 2-3:45pm, Philosophy Resource Room; Speaker: Rachel Brown, Australian National University; Moderator: Dr. Tang Weng Hong

Abstract: The meaning of the term “evolvability” has long been ambiguous within evolutionary biology. Because of this, interpreting and understanding statements made in the literature of the field such as “x is more evolvable than y” has been very difficult. In this paper I propose a novel analysis of evolvability using conditional probability that provides a “common currency” for discussions in the field. This account allows us to easily represent common statements about evolvability currently seen in the literature. In addition, it provides a framework via which we can assess the presence and nature of causal relationships between small scale features of the world and higher level evolutionary patterns. This has important implications for future research in evolvability.

About the speaker: Rachael Brown is a final year PhD candidate in the School of Philosophy at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University in Canberra supervised by Kim Sterelny, Paul Griffiths and Brett Calcott.  She is also a member of Tempo & Mode: Centre for Macroevolution and Macroecology, ANU. Prior to this she completed degrees in Zoology and the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Melbourne. Her primary research interests lie at the intersection of Philosophy, Evolutionary Biology and the study of animal behaviour.

More information on the Philosophy Seminar Series can be found here. A list of past talks in the series can be found here.

Comments are closed.