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Natural selection

Differences in survival and reproduction caused by phenotypic differences in a population. For natural selection to result in evolutionary change, these phenotypic differences must be heritable (evolution by natural selection requires heritable variation in fitness).


Gildenhuys, P. (2019), "Natural selection.” In E.N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2019 Edition).

Niche construction

The process whereby organismic activities alter some aspect of the environment, which in turn influences the selective pressures experienced by a population. (Note: the recipient of niche construction can be either the niche constructing population or a different population.)


Matthews, B. et al. (2014). “Under niche construction: an operational bridge between ecology, evolution and ecosystem science.” Ecological Monographs 84:245–263.

Normativity (Natural)

The quality of being subject to “natural” norms or standards: that is, norms or standards that can be explained in terms of facts about natural things (e.g., facts about how a particular system is organized).


Davies, P.S. (2001). Norms of nature: naturalism and the nature of functions. Cambridge (MA): The MIT Press.