, Volume 80, Supplement 3, pp 457–468 | Cite as

The Propensity Interpretation of Fitness and the Propensity Interpretation of Probability

  • Isabelle Drouet
  • Francesca Merlin
Original Article


The paper provides a new critical perspective on the propensity interpretation of fitness (PIF), by investigating its relationship to the propensity interpretation of probability. Two main conclusions are drawn. First, the claim that fitness is a propensity cannot be understood properly: fitness is not a propensity in the sense prescribed by the propensity interpretation of probability. Second, this interpretation of probability is inessential for explanations proposed by the PIF in evolutionary biology. Consequently, interpreting the probabilistic dimension of fitness in terms of propensities is neither a strong motivation in favor of this interpretation, nor a possible target for substantial criticism.


Reproductive Success Explanatory Power Individual Organism Type Probability Dispositional Property 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Paris-SorbonneParisFrance
  2. 2.IHPSTParisFrance
  3. 3.Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne & CNRS, UMR 8590 IHPST — Institut d‘histoire et de philosophie des sciences et des techniquesParisFrance

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