Function in the Light of Frequency-Dependent Selection

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Christie et al. (2022) claim that the SE theory of function is premised on a simplistic view of evolution. In complex evolutionary scenarios, in particular those involving frequency-dependent selection (FDS), the SE theory fails, they argue, since citing a trait’s SE function does
not serve to explain why the trait exists. I argue that where FDS leads to a stable equilibrium, at which all individuals’ trait values constitute a “best response” to the rest of the population, the SE theory can be straightforwardly applied. However matters are different
if the evolutionary dynamics do not take the population to a stable equilibrium.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralasian Philosophical Review
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 May 2023


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