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Darwinism is a term used for various processes related to the ideas of Charles Darwin, particularly concerning evolution and natural selection.

It is rarely used by biologists, but is occasionally used by philosophers, mathematicians, and social scientists to describe evolutionary processes that resemble the evolution of life, such as the development of software with genetic algorithms.

When used in this way, the concept of Darwinism is divorced from the details of biological evolution.

A Darwinian process requires the following conditions:

  • Self-replication: Some number of entities must be capable of producing copies of themselves, and those copies must also be capable of reproduction.
  • Inheritance: The copies must resemble the originals, or be more likely to share traits of their originals than those of unrelated entities.
  • Variation: The copies must occasionally be imperfect, so that the population of objects exhibits a variety of traits.
  • Selection: Inherited traits must somehow affect the ability of the entities to reproduce themselves.

In any system given these four conditions, by whatever means, evolution is likely to occur. That is, over time, the entities will accumulate complex traits that favor their reproduction.

See also: Evolution

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