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There are two claims that define Process Structuralism. First is that development has a strong influence on the kinds of phenotypes available for selection, bringing developmental phenomena to bear on evolutionary theory. Developmental processes are fundamentally developmental constraints explaining biological phenomena, such as the conservation of traits across phylogeny, in terms of developmental processes biasing the variation in phenotypic forms available for selection. Distinctive is the second claim, the ontological assertion that biological kinds can be individuated in terms of the kinds of structures that emerge from the dynamic process of cellular and physiological development, rather than in terms of historically contingent common descent. The dynamical process of development generate stable archetypal organismic structures, these constitute what was called a bauplan.

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  1. Javier Y. Álvarez-Vázquez, The Processual Form of Thinking. A New Perspective From Developmental Philosophy.
    Many contemporary theories of human cognition focus on the biochemical mechanisms that lie beneath the mind’s operations, while neglecting the historical and developmental aspects of the human mind. This article argues (1) that a processual form of thinking has been developing since the Modern Era. Furthermore, it maintains (2) that this particular form of thinking is intrinsically connected with the historical phenomenon of the scientific revolution. The paper studies Günter Dux’s innovative historico-genetic approach to the development of thought in historical (...)
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  2. Marcello Barbieri (2012). Code Biology – A New Science of Life. Biosemiotics 5 (3):411-437.
    Systems Biology and the Modern Synthesis are recent versions of two classical biological paradigms that are known as structuralism and functionalism, or internalism and externalism. According to functionalism (or externalism), living matter is a fundamentally passive entity that owes its organization to external forces (functions that shape organs) or to an external organizing agent (natural selection). Structuralism (or internalism), is the view that living matter is an intrinsically active entity that is capable of organizing itself from within, with purely internal (...)
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  3. Björn Blom & Stefan Morén (2011). Analysis of Generative Mechanisms. Journal of Critical Realism 10 (1):60-79.
    The focus of this article is the analysis of generative mechanisms, a basic concept and phenomenon within the metatheoretical perspective of critical realism. It is emphasized that research questions and methods, as well as the knowledge it is possible to attain, depend on the basic view – ontologically and epistemologically – regarding the phenomenon under scrutiny. A generative mechanism is described as a trans empirical but real existing entity, explaining why observable events occur. Mechanisms are mostly possible to grasp only (...)
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  4. Brett Calcott (2014). Engineering and Evolvability. Biology and Philosophy 29 (3):293-313.
    Comparing engineering to evolution typically involves adaptationist thinking, where well-designed artifacts are likened to well-adapted organisms, and the process of evolution is likened to the process of design. A quite different comparison is made when biologists focus on evolvability instead of adaptationism. Here, the idea is that complex integrated systems, whether evolved or engineered, share universal principles that affect the way they change over time. This shift from adaptationism to evolvability is a significant move for, as I argue, we can (...)
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  5. Guy Dove (2012). Grammar as a Developmental Phenomenon. Biology and Philosophy 27 (5):615-637.
    More and more researchers are examining grammar acquisition from theoretical perspectives that treat it as an emergent phenomenon. In this essay, I argue that a robustly developmental perspective provides a potential explanation for some of the well-known crosslinguistic features of early child language: the process of acquisition is shaped in part by the developmental constraints embodied in von Baer’s law of development. An established model of development, the Developmental Lock, captures and elucidates the probabilistic generalizations at the heart of von (...)
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  6. Raphael Falk (2004). Long Live the Genome! So Should the Gene. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 26 (1):105 - 121.
    Developments in the sequencing of whole genomes and in simultaneously surveying many thousands of transcription and translation products of specific cells have ushered in a conceptual revolution in genetics that rationally introduces top-down, holistic analyses. This emphasized the futility of attempts to reduce genes to structurally discrete entities along the genome, and the need to return to Johannsen's definition of a gene as 'something' that refers to an invariant entity of inheritance and development. We may view genes either as generic (...)
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  7. Bernardino Fantini (2000). L'embryologie, la 'géographie chimique' de la cellule et la synthèse entre morphologie et chimie (1930-1950). History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 22 (3):353 - 380.
    Chemical embryology was born in 1931 with the publication of Chemical Embryology by Joseph Needham. In the following two decades it became an innovative research project aiming at the description of the construction of the embryological structure and differentiation in biochemical terms. This research programme produced a vast amount of experimental evidence and theories on the chemical dynamics of the embryo: particularly chemical characterization of the zygote and the developing embryo, the chemical exchanges between the nucleus and the cytoplasm, the (...)
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  8. Alan Fogel, Maria C. D. P. Lyra & Jaan Valsiner (eds.) (1997). Dynamics and Indeterminism in Developmental and Social Processes. L. Erlbaum.
    One of the most profound insights of the dynamic systems perspective is that new structures resulting from the developmental process do not need to be planned in advance, nor is it necessary to have these structures represented in genetic or neurological templates prior to their emergence. Rather, new structures can emerge as components of the individual and the environment self-organize; that is, as they mutually constrain each other's actions, new patterns and structures may arise. This theoretical possibility brings into developmental (...)
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  9. Paul E. Griffiths (1996). Darwinism, Process Structuralism, and Natural Kinds. Philosophy of Science 63 (3):9.
    Darwinists classify biological traits either by their ancestry (homology) or by their adaptive role. Only the latter can provide traditional natural kinds, but only the former is practicable. Process structuralists exploit this embarrassment to argue for non-Darwinian classifications in terms of underlying developmental mechanisms. This new taxonomy will also explain phylogenetic inertia and developmental constraint. I argue that Darwinian homologies are natural kinds despite having historical essences and being spatio-temporally restricted. Furthermore, process structuralist explanations of biological form require an unwarranted (...)
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  10. Brian K. Hall & Manfred D. Laubichler (2008). Conrad H. Waddington: Towards a Theoretical Biology. Biological Theory 3 (3):233-237.
  11. Kevin N. Laland, John Odling-Smee, William Hoppitt & Tobias Uller (2013). More on How and Why: Cause and Effect in Biology Revisited. Biology and Philosophy 28 (5):719-745.
    In 1961, Ernst Mayr published a highly influential article on the nature of causation in biology, in which he distinguished between proximate and ultimate causes. Mayr argued that proximate causes (e.g. physiological factors) and ultimate causes (e.g. natural selection) addressed distinct ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions and were not competing alternatives. That distinction retains explanatory value today. However, the adoption of Mayr’s heuristic led to the widespread belief that ontogenetic processes are irrelevant to evolutionary questions, a belief that has (1) hindered (...)
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  12. Manfred D. Laubichler (2009). Form and Function in Evo Devo: Historical and Conceptual Reflections. In Manfred Laubichler & Jane Maienschein (eds.), Form and Function in Developmental Evolution. Cambridge University Press 10.
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  13. Tim Lewens (2012). Pheneticism Reconsidered. Biology and Philosophy 27 (2):159-177.
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  14. Anne Dambricourt Malassé (1995). Les Attracteurs Inedits de L'Hominisation. Acta Biotheoretica 43 (1-2):113-125.
    The recent discovery of a phenomenon of craniofacial growth, called craniofacial contraction, throws a new light on the process of hominization. The main interest of this discovery lies in a growth principle combining the different craniofacial units, that is to say, the neurocranium, the chondrocranium and the splanchnocranium. Until recent years, these different parts were considered as neighbouring element without any morphogenic or morphodynamic connection. But now, we know that the morphogenesis of the base of the skull governs that of (...)
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  15. Fabian Neuhaus & Barry Smith (2008). Modelling Principles and Methodologies: Relations in Anatomical Ontologies. In Albert Burger, Duncan Davidson & Richard Baldock (eds.), Anatomy Ontologies for Bioinformatics: Principles and Practice. Springer
    It is now increasingly accepted that many existing biological and medical ontologies can be improved by adopting tools and methods that bring a greater degree of logical and ontological rigor. In this chapter we will focus on the merits of a logically sound approach to ontologies from a methodological point of view. As we shall see, one crucial feature of a logically sound approach is that we have clear and functional definitions of the relational expressions such as ‘is a’ and (...)
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  16. Massimo Pigliucci (2013). Between Holism and Reductionism: A Philosophical Primer on Emergence. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 112 (2):261-267.
    Ever since Darwin a great deal of the conceptual history of biology may be read as a struggle between two philosophical positions: reductionism and holism. On the one hand, we have the reductionist claim that evolution has to be understood in terms of changes at the fundamental causal level of the gene. As Richard Dawkins famously put it, organisms are just ‘lumbering robots’ in the service of their genetic masters. On the other hand, there is a long holistic tradition that (...)
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  17. Massimo Pigliucci (2010). Genotype–Phenotype Mapping and the End of the ‘Genes as Blueprint’ Metaphor. Philosophical Transactions Royal Society B 365:557–566.
    In a now classic paper published in 1991, Alberch introduced the concept of genotype–phenotype (G!P) mapping to provide a framework for a more sophisticated discussion of the integration between genetics and developmental biology that was then available. The advent of evo-devo first and of the genomic era later would seem to have superseded talk of transitions in phenotypic space and the like, central to Alberch’s approach. On the contrary, this paper shows that recent empirical and theoretical advances have only sharpened (...)
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  18. David Resnik (1994). The Rebirth of Rational Morphology. Acta Biotheoretica 42 (1):1-14.
    This paper examines a new challenge to neo-Darwinism, a movement known as process structuralism. The process structuralist critique of neo-Darwinism holds 1) that there are general laws in biology and that biologists should search for these laws; 2) that there are general forms of morphology and development and that biologists should attempt to uncover these forms; 3) that organisms are unified wholes that cannot be understood without adopting a holistic perspective; and 4) that no special, causal primacy should be given (...)
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  19. Jeffrey H. Schwartz (2006). Decisions, Decisions: Why Thomas Hunt Morgan Was Not the "Father" of Evo-Devo. Philosophy of Science 73 (5):918-929.
    Although the construction of neo-Darwinism grew out of Thomas Hunt Morgan's melding of Darwinism and Mendelism, his evidence did not soley support a model of gradual change. To the contrary, he was confronted with observations that could have led him to a more "evo-devo" understanding of the emergence of novel features. Indeed, since Morgan was an embryologist before he became a fruit-fly geneticist, one would have predicted that the combination of these two lines of research would have resulted in early (...)
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  20. Arlin Stoltzfus (2012). Constructive Neutral Evolution: Exploring Evolutionary Theory's Curious Disconnect. Biology Direct 7:35.
    Constructive neutral evolution (CNE) suggests that neutral evolution may follow a stepwise path to extravagance. Whether or not CNE is common, the mere possibility raises provocative questions about causation: in classical neo-Darwinian thinking, selection is the sole source of creativity and direction, the only force that can cause trends or build complex features. However, much of contemporary evolutionary genetics departs from the conception of evolution underlying neo-Darwinism, resulting in a widening gap between what formal models allow, and what the prevailing (...)
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  21. Arlin Stoltzfus (2006). Mutationism and the Dual Causation of Evolutionary Change. Evolution and Development 8 (3):304-317.
    The rediscovery of Mendel's laws a century ago launched the science that William Bateson called "genetics," and led to a new view of evolution combining selection, particulate inheritance, and the newly characterized phenomenon of "mutation." This "mutationist" view clashed with the earlier view of Darwin, and the later "Modern Synthesis," by allowing discontinuity, and by recognizing mutation (or more properly, mutation-and-altered-development) as a source of creativity, direction, and initiative. By the mid-20th century, the opposing Modern Synthesis view was a prevailing (...)
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  22. Arlin Stoltzfus (1999). On the Possibility of Constructive Neutral Evolution. Journal of Molecular Evolution 49 (2):169-181.
    The neutral theory often is presented as a theory of "noise" or silent changes at an isolated "molecular level", relevant to marking the steady pace of divergence, but not to the origin of biological structure, function, or complexity. Nevertheless, precisely these issues can be addressed in neutral models, such as those elaborated here in regard to scrambled ciliate genes, gRNA-mediated RNA editing, the transition from self-splicing to spliceosomal splicing, and the retention of duplicate genes. All of these are instances of (...)
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  23. Arlin Stoltzfus & Lev Yampolsky (2009). Climbing Mount Probable: Mutation as a Cause of Non-Randomness in Evolution. Journal of Heredity 100 (5):637-647.
    The classic view of evolution as "shifting gene frequencies" in the Modern Synthesis literally means that evolution is the modulation of existing variation ("standing variation"), as opposed to a "new mutations" view of evolution as a 2-step process of mutational origin followed by acceptance-or-rejection (via selection and drift). The latter view has received renewed attention, yet its implications for evolutionary causation still are not widely understood. We review theoretical results showing that this conception of evolution allows for a role of (...)
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  24. Denis M. Walsh (2013). Mechanism, Emergence, and Miscibility: The Autonomy of Evo-Devo. In Philippe Huneman (ed.), Functions: Selection and Mechanisms. Springer 43--65.
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