Toward a Biology Worthy of Life > Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness > Brief excerpt
A project by Stephen L. Talbott

Fitness is difficult to judge

We cannot isolate traits — or the mutations producing them — as if they were independent causal elements. Organism-environment relations present us with so much complexity, so many possible parameters to track, that, apart from obviously disabling cases, there is no way to pronounce on the significance of a mutation for an organism, let alone for a population or for the future of the species. To pose just one question within the sea of unknowns: even if a mutation could in one way or another be deemed harmful to the organism in its current environment, what if the organism used this element of disharmony as a spur either to re-shape its environment or to alter its own behavior, thereby creating a distinctive and advantageous niche for itself and others of its kind?

bullet Locate this passage inEvolution and the Illusion of Randomness