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Philosophers of biology have expended a great deal of effort to understand the broad-scale causal structure of evolution. What kind of processes are selection, drift, mutation, and so on? What role do commonly studied properties like fitness, population size, etc. play within these processes? Often, the answers to these questions are taken to be peculiar to the biological context, and to result from contemporary philosophical reflection on probabilistic causation and statistical inference. It is my goal in this talk to offer the first half of an argument that this is mistaken. I will argue here that these kinds of questions are not a novel product of the philosophical literature, but rather have been with us since the introduction of statistics and chance into evolutionary theory in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Reconnecting with the history of this debate, I claim, will help us construct a clearer picture of the stakes both in the historical and the contemporary context.