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Why did Darwin change his mind about sex ratio?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Tim Lewens.

This will be a special session of the Philosophy of Biology Reading Group – everyone is welcome, regardless of whether they have been to earlier sessions of the reading group.

In the first edition of Descent of Man (1871), Darwin attempts to describe how natural selection influences the percentage of males and females that a population contains. He argues that selection will cause an even sex ratio to evolve when the population is monogamous, but that a biased sex ratio will result when there is polygyny. Darwin withdraws this explanation in the second edition (1874) but does not explain why. In this lecture, I’ll explain Darwin’s argument and speculate about why he had second thoughts.

This talk is part of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science series.

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