Philosophy Colloquium Talk: Jean Gayon November 29

Professor Jean Gayon of the University of Paris delivers a talk titled “Population Genetics, Economic Theory, and Eugenics in the work of R. A. Fisher” on Friday, November 29, 3:00 to 5:00pm in Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Room 261.

Sir Ronald A. Fisher (1890-1962) was a leading contributor to the Modern Synthesis that united evolutionary theory with genetics, and provided many of the technical tools in the 1920s and 30s. Professor Jean Gayon will show how Fisher used economic concepts and images in both his mathematical approach to natural selection and his eugenic thinking. He will first examine the striking parallel made by Fisher, in highly theoretical texts, between the rate of increase a population and the growth of capital invested at compound interest. Then Jean Gayon will turn to the explicitely “economic” papers, all motivated by eugenic concerns. The lecture will finally provide evidence that the theoretical side and the eugenic side of Fisher’s biology and Fisher’s use of economic concepts were strongly related.