The Price equation and the laws of evolution
Victor J. Luque, Lorenzo Baravalle
Königlicher Pferdestall, Hannover
16 / 03 / 2023

Due to its high degree of complexity and its historical nature, evolutionary biology has been traditionally portrayed as a messy science. According to the supporters of such a view, evolutionary biology would be unable to formulate laws and robust theories, instead just delivering coherent narratives and local models. Our aim in this talk is to challenge this view by showing how the Price equation can work as the core of a general theoretical framework for evolutionary phenomena. To support this claim, we will borrow some conceptual tools from metatheoretical structuralism, which is a sophisticated semantic approach to the reconstruction of the structure of scientific theories. This approach allows us to outline some unnoticed structural similarities between physical theories (in particular, classical mechanics) and evolutionary biology. More specifically, we shall argue that the Price equation, in the same way as fundamental formalisms in physics, can serve as a heuristic principle to formulate and systematise different theories and models in evolutionary biology.

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