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  1. Jeremy C. Ahouse (1998). The Tragedy of a Priori Selectionism: Dennett and Gould on Adaptationism. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 13 (3):359-391.
    In his recent book on Darwinism, Daniel Dennett has offered up a species of a priori selectionism that he calls algorithmic. He used this view to challenge a number of positions advocated by Stephen J. Gould. I examine his algorithmic conception, review his unqualified enthusiasm for the a priori selectionist position, challenge Dennett's main metaphors (cranes vs. skyhooks and a design space), examine ways in which his position has lead him to misunderstand or misrepresent Gould (spandrels, exaptation, punctuated equilibrium, contingency (...)
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  2. Ron Amundson (1994). Two Concepts of Constraint: Adaptationism and the Challenge From Developmental Biology. Philosophy of Science 61 (4):556-578.
    The so-called "adaptationism" of mainstream evolutionary biology has been criticized from a variety of sources. One, which has received relatively little philosophical attention, is developmental biology. Developmental constraints are said to be neglected by adaptationists. This paper explores the divergent methodological and explanatory interests that separate mainstream evolutionary biology from its embryological and developmental critics. It will focus on the concept of constraint itself; even this central concept is understood differently by the two sides of the dispute.
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  3. Paul W. Andrews, Steven W. Gangestad & Dan Matthews (2002). Adaptationism, Exaptationism, and Evolutionary Behavioral Science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (4):534-547.
    In our target article, we discussed the standards of evidence that could be used to identify adaptations, and argued that building an empirical case that certain features of a trait are best explained by exaptation, spandrel, or constraint requires the consideration, testing, and rejection of adaptationist hypotheses. We are grateful to the 31 commentators for their thoughtful insights. They raised important issues, including the meaning of “exaptation”; whether Gould and Lewontin's critique of adaptationism was primarily epistemological or ontological; the necessity, (...)
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  4. Paul W. Andrews, Steven W. Gangestad & Dan Matthews (2002). Adaptationism – How to Carry Out an Exaptationist Program. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (4):489-504.
    1 Adaptationism is a research strategy that seeks to identify adaptations and the specific selective forces that drove their evolution in past environments. Since the mid-1970s, paleontologist Stephen J. Gould and geneticist Richard Lewontin have been critical of adaptationism, especially as applied toward understanding human behavior and cognition. Perhaps the most prominent criticism they made was that adaptationist explanations were analogous to Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. Since storytelling is an inherent part of science, the criticism refers to the acceptance (...)
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  5. Stephen Asma (1996). Following Form and Function: A Philosophical Archaeology of Life Science. Northwestern University Press.
    The concepts of form and function have traditionally been defined in terms of biology and then extended to other disciplines. Stephen T. Asma examines the various interpretations of form and function in science and philosophy, reflecting on the philosophical presuppositions underlying the work of Geoffroy, Cuvier, Darwin, and others. -/- In the continental tradition of Canguilhem and Foucault, Asma's treatment of the historical form/function dispute analyzes the complex interactions among ideologies, metaphysical commitments, and research programs. Following Form and Function is (...)
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  6. Stephen Asma (1996). Following Form and Function: A Philosophical Archeology of Life Science. Northwestern University Press.
    The concepts of form and function have traditionally been defined in terms of biology and then extended to other disciplines. Stephen T. Asma examines the various interpretations of form and function in science and philosophy, reflecting on the philosophical presuppositions underlying the work of Geoffroy, Cuvier, Darwin, and others. -/- In the continental tradition of Canguilhem and Foucault, Asma's treatment of the historical form/function dispute analyzes the complex interactions among ideologies, metaphysical commitments, and research programs. Following Form and Function is (...)
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  7. Scott Atran (2005). Strong Versus Weak Adaptationism in Cognition and Language. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York
    This chapter focuses on the issue of methodological usefulness of a strong versus weak adaptationist position in attempting to gain significant insight and to make scientifically important advances and discoveries in human cognition. Strong adaptationism holds that complex design is best explained by task-specific adaptations to particular ancestral environments; whereas weak adaptationism claims that we should not assume that complex design is the result of such narrowly determined task- or niche-specific evolutionary pressures in the absence of substantial corroborating evidence. It (...)
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  8. Scott Atran (2004). Adaptationism for Human Cognition: Strong, Spurious, or Weak? Mind and Language 20 (1):39-67.
    Strong adaptationists explore complex organic design as taskspecific adaptations to ancestral environments. This strategy seems best when there is evidence of homology. Weak adaptationists don't assume that complex organic (including cognitive and linguistic) functioning necessarily or primarily represents taskspecific adaptation. This approach to cognition resembles physicists' attempts to deductively explain the most facts with fewest hypotheses. For certain domainspecific competencies (folkbiology) strong adaptationism is useful but not necessary to research. With grouplevel belief systems (religion) strong adaptationism degenerates into spurious notions (...)
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  9. Scott Atran (2002). Modest Adaptationism: Muddling Through Cognition and Language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (4):504-506.
    Strong adaptationists would explain complex organic designs as specific adaptations to particular ancestral environments. Weak adaptationists don't assume that complex organic functioning represents evolutionary design in the sense of niche-specific adaptation. For some domain-specific competencies (folkbiology) strong adaptationism is useful, not necessary. With group-level belief systems (religion), strong adaptationism can become spurious pseudo-adaptationism. In other cases (language), weak adaptationism proves productive.
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  10. Xabier Barandiaran & Alvaro Moreno (2008). Adaptivity: From Metabolism to Behavior. Adaptive Behavior 16 (5):325-344.
  11. Gillian Barker (2008). Biological Levers and Extended Adaptationism. Biology and Philosophy 23 (1):1-25.
    Two critiques of simple adaptationism are distinguished: anti-adaptationism and extended adaptationism. Adaptationists and anti-adaptationists share the presumption that an evolutionary explanation should identify the dominant simple cause of the evolutionary outcome to be explained. A consideration of extended-adaptationist models such as coevolution, niche construction and extended phenotypes reveals the inappropriateness of this presumption in explaining the evolution of certain important kinds of features—those that play particular roles in the regulation of organic processes, especially behavior. These biological or behavioral ‘levers’ are (...)
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  12. Spencer Benson (1997). Adaptive Mutation: A General Phenomenon or Special Case? Bioessays 19 (1):9-11.
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  13. Jonathan Birch (2016). Hamilton's Two Conceptions of Social Fitness. Philosophy of Science.
    Hamilton introduced two conceptions of social fitness, which he called neighbour-modulated fitness and inclusive fitness. Although he regarded them as formally equivalent, a re-analysis of his own argument for their equivalence brings out two important assumptions on which it rests: weak additivity and actor's control. When weak additivity breaks down, neither fitness concept is appropriate in its original form. When actor's control breaks down, neighbour-modulated fitness may be appropriate, but inclusive fitness is not. Yet I argue that, despite its more (...)
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  14. Jonathan Birch (2014). Has Grafen Formalized Darwin? Biology and Philosophy 29 (2):175-180.
    One key aim of Grafen’s Formal Darwinism project is to formalize ‘modern biology’s understanding and updating of Darwin’s central argument’. In this commentary, I consider whether Grafen has succeeded in this aim.
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  15. Maarten Boudry & Massimo Pigliucci (2013). The Mismeasure of Machine: Synthetic Biology and the Trouble with Engineering Metaphors. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):660-668.
    The scientific study of living organisms is permeated by machine and design metaphors. Genes are thought of as the ‘‘blueprint’’ of an organism, organisms are ‘‘reverse engineered’’ to discover their functionality, and living cells are compared to biochemical factories, complete with assembly lines, transport systems, messenger circuits, etc. Although the notion of design is indispensable to think about adaptations, and engineering analogies have considerable heuristic value (e.g., optimality assumptions), we argue they are limited in several important respects. In particular, the (...)
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  16. Ingo Brigandt (2015). From Developmental Constraint to Evolvability: How Concepts Figure in Explanation and Disciplinary Identity. In Alan C. Love (ed.), Conceptual Change in Biology: Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives on Evolution and Development. Springer 305-325.
    The concept of developmental constraint was at the heart of developmental approaches to evolution of the 1980s. While this idea was widely used to criticize neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, critique does not yield an alternative framework that offers evolutionary explanations. In current Evo-devo the concept of constraint is of minor importance, whereas notions as evolvability are at the center of attention. The latter clearly defines an explanatory agenda for evolutionary research, so that one could view the historical shift from ‘developmental constraint’ (...)
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  17. Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.) (2005). The Innate Mind. Oxford University Press.
    This is the first volume of a projected three-volume set on the subject of innateness. The extent to which the mind is innate is one of the central questions in the human sciences, with important implications for many surrounding debates. By bringing together the top nativist scholars in philosophy, psychology, and allied disciplines these volumes provide a comprehensive assessment of nativist thought and a definitive reference point for future nativist inquiry. The Innate Mind: Structure and Content, concerns the fundamental architecture (...)
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  18. W. D. Christensen, J. D. Collier & C. A. Hooker (forthcoming). Adaptiveness and Adaptation: A New Autonomy-Theoretic Analysis and Critique. Biology and Philosophy.
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  19. John R. Clarke (1953). The General Adaptation Syndrome in the Study of Animal Populations. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 3 (12):350-352.
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  20. Lindley Darden & Joseph A. Cain (1989). Selection Type Theories. Philosophy of Science 56 (1):106-129.
    Selection type theories solve adaptation problems. Natural selection, clonal selection for antibody production, and selective theories of higher brain function are examples. An abstract characterization of typical selection processes is generated by analyzing and extending previous work on the nature of natural selection. Once constructed, this abstraction provides a useful tool for analyzing the nature of other selection theories and may be of use in new instances of theory construction. This suggests the potential fruitfulness of research to find other theory (...)
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  21. Rachel L. Day, Kevin N. Laland & F. John Odling-Smee (2003). Rethinking Adaptation: The Niche-Construction Perspective. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 46 (1):80-95.
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  22. Daniel C. Dennett (1990). The Interpretation of Texts, People and Other Artifacts. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50:177-194.
    I want to explore four different exercises of interpretation: (1) the interpretation of texts (or hermeneutics), (2) the interpretation of people (otherwise known as "attribution" psychology, or cognitive or intentional psychology), (3) the interpretation of other artifacts (which I shall call artifact hermeneutics), (4) the interpretation of organism design in evolutionary biology--the controversial interpretive activity known as adaptationism.
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  23. Stephen M. Downes (2014). Evolutionary Psychology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  24. John Dupré (1999). Review of Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 66:489-493.
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  25. Mark Fedyk (2014). How to Bring Psychology and Biology Together. Philosophical Studies 1 (4):949-967.
    Evolutionary psychologists often try to “bring together” biology and psychology by making predictions about what specific psychological mechanisms exist from theories about what patterns of behaviour would have been adaptive in the EEA for humans. This paper shows that one of the deepest methodological generalities in evolutionary biology—that proximate explanations and ultimate explanations stand in a many-to-many relation—entails that this inferential strategy is unsound. Ultimate explanations almost never entail the truth of any particular proximate hypothesis. But of course it does (...)
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  26. Aurelio José Figueredo, Mark J. Landau & Jon A. Sefcek (2004). Apes and Angels: Adaptationism Versus Panglossianism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (3):334-335.
    The “straw man” prior expectation of the dominant social psychology paradigm is that humans should behave with perfect rationality and high ethical standards. The more modest claim of evolutionary psychologists is that humans have evolved specific adaptations for adaptive problems that were reliably present in the ancestral environment. Outside that restricted range of problems, one should not expect optimal behavior.
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  27. Leonore Fleming (2013). The Notion of Limited Perfect Adaptedness in Darwin's Principle of Divergence. Perspectives on Science 21 (1):1-22.
    Darwin begins On the Origin of Species by asking the reader to “reflect on the vast diversity of the plants and animals which have been cultivated” (1859, p. 7); almost five-hundred pages later, he closes by having the reader consider the “endless forms most beautiful and wonderful” that have evolved (1859, p. 490). Darwin contemplates diversity throughout the Origin and presents the principle of divergence as a way to explain it. Darwin formulated the principle of divergence around 1857 (Browne 1980), (...)
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  28. Patrick Forber (2009). Introduction: A Primer on Adaptationism. Biology and Philosophy 24 (2):155-159.
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  29. Patrick Forber (2009). Spandrels and a Pervasive Problem of Evidence. Biology and Philosophy 24 (2):247-266.
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  30. Patricia L. Foster (2000). Adaptive Mutation: Implications for Evolution. Bioessays 22 (12):1067-1074.
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  31. Michael T. Ghiselin (1966). On Semantic Pitfalls of Biological Adaptation. Philosophy of Science 33 (1/2):147-.
    "Adaptation" has several meanings which have often been confused, including relations, processes, states, and intrinsic properties. It is used in comparative and historical contexts. "Adaptation" and "environment" may designate probabilistic concepts. Recognition of these points refutes arguments for the notions that: 1) all organisms are perfectly adapted; 2) organisms cannot be ill-adapted and survive or well-adapted and die; 3) adaptation is necessarily relative to the environment; 4) change in environment is necessary for evolution; 5) preadaptation implies teleology. Such notions are (...)
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  32. Andrea Glenn, R. Kurzban & Adrian Raine (2011). Evolutionary Theory and Psychopathy. Aggression and Violent Behavior 16:371-380.
    Psychopathy represents a unique set of personality traits including deceitfulness, lack of empathy and guilt, impulsiveness, and antisocial behavior. Most often in the literature, psychopathy is described as pathology — a disorder that has been linked to a variety of biological deficits and environmental risk factors. However, from an evolutionary perspective, psychopathy, while it could be a disorder, has been construed in the context of an adaptive strategy. In this article we will examine the strengths and weaknesses of two models (...)
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  33. Peter Godfrey-Smith, Three Kinds of Adaptationism.
    Debate about adaptationism in biology continues, in part because within “the” problem of assessing adaptationism, three distinct problems are mixed together. The three problems concern the assessment of three distinct adaptationist positions, each of which asserts the central importance of adaptation and natural selection to the study of evolution, but conceives this importance in a different way. As there are three kinds of adaptationism, there are three distinct "anti-adaptationist" positions as well. Or putting it more formally, there are three different (...)
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  34. Peter Godfrey-Smith (1999). Adaptationism and the Power of Selection. Biology and Philosophy 14 (2):181-194.
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  35. S. J. Gould & R. C. Lewontin (1994). The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme. In E. Sober (ed.), Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology. The MIT Press. Bradford Books 73-90.
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  36. Stephen Jay Gould, The Exaptive Excellence of Spandrels as a Term and Prototype.
    In 1979, Lewontin and I borrowed the archi- tectural term “spandrel” (using the pendentives of San Marco in Venice as an example) to designate the class of forms and spaces that arise as necessary byproducts of another decision in design, and not as adaptations for direct utility in them- selves. This proposal has generated a large literature featur- ing two critiques: (i) the terminological claim that the span- drels of San Marco are not true spandrels at all and (ii) the (...)
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  37. Paul E. Griffiths (1999). Adaptation and Adaptationism. In Robert A. Wilson & Frank C. Keil (eds.), The Mit Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences. MIT Press 3--4.
    Encyclopedia entry on the concepts of adaptation and adaptationism.
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  38. Michael Habib (2013). Constraining the Air Giants: Limits on Size in Flying Animals as an Example of Constraint-Based Biomechanical Theories of Form. [REVIEW] Biological Theory 8 (3):245-252.
    The study of biomechanics most often takes a classic adaptationist approach, examining the functional abilities of organisms in relation to what is allowed by physical parameters. This approach generally assumes strong selection and is less concerned with evolutionary stochasticity in determining the presence of biological traits. It is equally important, however, to consider the importance of constraint in determining the form of organisms. If selection is relatively weak compared to stochastic events, then the observed forms in living systems can be (...)
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  39. Brian Haig & Russil Durrant (2002). Adaptationism and Inference to the Best Explanation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (4):520-521.
    Andrews et al. effectively argue that, despite prominent criticism, adaptationism can be a viable research strategy. We agree. In our complementary commentary, we discuss the neglected method of inference to the best explanation and argue that it is a valuable addition to the adaptationist's methodological practice.
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  40. Alasdair I. Houston & John M. McNamara (2000). Adaptive Accounts of Physiology and Emotion. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (2):201-202.
    Rolls discusses various adaptive explanations of physiological processes and the emotions. We give a critical analysis of some of these from the perspective of behavioural ecology. While agreeing with the approach adopted by Rolls, we identify topics that could have been better presented by making use of the existing literature.
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  41. Simon M. Huttegger (2010). Generic Properties of Evolutionary Games and Adaptationism. Journal of Philosophy 107 (2):80-102.
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  42. Harmon R. Holcomb Iii (1996). Just so Stories and Inference to the Best Explanation in Evolutionary Psychology. Minds and Machines 6 (4):525-540.
    Evolutionary psychology is a science in the making, working toward the goal of showing how psychological adaptation underlies much human behavior. The knee-jerk reaction that sociobiology is unscientific because it tells “just-so stories” has become a common charge against evolutionary psychology as well. My main positive thesis is that inference to the best explanation is a proper method for evolutionary analyses, and it supplies a new perspective on the issues raised in Schlinger's (1996) just-so story critique. My main negative thesis (...)
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  43. Jonathan Kaplan (2008). Economic Rationality and Explaining Human Behavior: An Adaptationist Program? International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences 3 (7):79-94.
    Attempts to explain human behavior that appeal to economic rationality share many of the same ontological as- sumptions and methodological practices that the so-called ‘adaptationist program’ in biology was criticized for. This program in biology was largely abandoned by biologists as poorly motivated, and replaced with the active testing of both adaptive and non-adaptive hypotheses regarding the spread and maintenance of traits in populations. This development was largely welcome by the biological community, despite having required the development of new tools, (...)
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  44. David Kirsh (1996). Adapting the Environment Instead of Oneself. Adaptive Behavior 4 (3-4):415-452.
    This paper examines some of the methods animals and humans have of adapting their environment. Because there are limits on how many different tasks a creature can be designed to do well in, creatures with the capacity to redesign their environments have an adaptive advantage over those who can only passively adapt to existing environmental structures. To clarify environmental redesign I rely on the formal notion of a task environment as a directed graph where the nodes are states and the (...)
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  45. John Klasios (2014). The Evolutionary Psychology of Human Mating: A Response to Buller's Critique. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 47:1-11.
    In this paper, I critique arguments made by philosopher David Buller against central evolutionary-psychological explanations of human mating. Specifically, I aim to rebut his criticisms of Evolutionary Psychology regarding (1) women's long-term mating preferences for high-status men; (2) the evolutionary rationale behind men's provisioning of women; (3) men's mating preferences for young women; (4) women's adaptation for extra-pair sex; (5) the sex-differentiated evolutionary theory of human jealousy; and (6) the notion of mate value. In sum, I aim to demonstrate that (...)
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  46. John Klasios (2013). Cognitive Traits as Sexually Selected Fitness Indicators. Review of General Psychology 17 (4):428-442.
    The evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller has argued that various features of human psychology have been sculpted, at least in part, by the evolutionary process of sexual selection via mate choice. This paper specifically examines the central claim of Miller’s account, namely that certain cognitive traits have evolved to function as good genes fitness indicators. First, I expound on and clarify key foundational concepts comprising the focal hypothesis, especially condition-dependence, mutation target size, and mutation-selection balance. Second, I proceed to highlight some (...)
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  47. Ulrich Krohs (2005). The Conceptual Basis of a Biological Dispute About the Temporal Order of Evolutionary Events. In Friedrich Stadler & Michael Stölzner (eds.), Time and History. Papers of the 28th International Wittgenstein Symposium. Österr. Ludwig-Wittgenstein-Gesellschaft
    occurs first. The biological debate is conducted largely on a theoretical level. In this paper, I undertake to locate
    the reason for the difference in temporal ordering. The question is whether the difference depends on alternative
    interpretations of empirical data, on differing views about evolutionary mechanisms, or on different conceptual
    frameworks. It will turn out that the latter is the case and that discerning two different notions of novelty solves
    the apparent contradiction. Both concepts may apply to different cases in evolution. To settle the (...)
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  48. Tim Lewens (2009). Seven Types of Adaptationism. Biology and Philosophy 24 (2):161-182.
    Godfrey-Smith ( 2001 ) has distinguished three types of adaptationism. This article builds on his analysis, and revises it in places, by distinguishing seven varieties of adaptationism. This taxonomy allows us to clarify what is at stake in debates over adaptationism, and it also helps to cement the importance of Gould and Lewontin’s ‘Spandrels’ essay. Some adaptationists have suggested that their essay does not offer any coherent alternative to the adaptationist programme: it consists only in an exhortation to test adaptationist (...)
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  49. Tim Lewens (2007). Adaptation. In David L. Hull & Michael Ruse (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Philosophy of Biology. Cambridge University Press
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  50. Tim Lewens (2002). Adaptationism and Engineering. Biology and Philosophy 17 (1):1-31.
    The rights and wrongs of adaptationism areoften discussed by appeal to what I call theartefact model. Anti-adaptationistscomplain that the use of optimality modelling,reverse engineering and other techniques areindicative of a mistaken and outmoded beliefthat organisms are like well-designedartefacts. Adaptationists (e.g. Dennett 1995)respond with the assertion that viewingorganisms as though they were well designed isa fruitful, perhaps necessary research strategyin evolutionary biology. Anti-adaptationistsare right when they say that techniques likereverse engineering are liable to mislead. This fact does not undermine the artefact (...)
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