Adaptationism – how to carry out an exaptationist program

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (4):489-504 (2002)
Abstract
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 (outlandish explanations for questions such as how the elephant got its trunk). Since storytelling (through the generation of hypotheses and the making of inferences) is an inherent part of science, the criticism refers to the acceptance of stories without sufficient empirical evidence. In particular, Gould, Lewontin, and their colleagues argue that adaptationists often use inappropriate evidentiary standards for identifying adaptations and their functions, and that they often fail to consider alternative hypotheses to adaptation. Playing prominently in both of these criticisms are the concepts of constraint, spandrel, and exaptation. In this article we discuss the standards of evidence that could be used to identify adaptations and when and how they may be appropriately used. Moreover, building an empirical case that certain features of a trait are best explained by exaptation, spandrel, or constraint requires demonstrating that the trait's features cannot be better accounted for by adaptationist hypotheses. Thus, we argue that the testing of alternatives requires the consideration, testing, and systematic rejection of adaptationist hypotheses. Where possible, we illustrate our points with examples taken from human behavior and cognition. Key Words: adaptation; ADHD; brain allometry; constraint; epistemology; evolutionary psychology; exaptation; female orgasm; optimization; special design; waist-hip ratio (WHR). Footnotes1 The authors contributed equally to this paper. Order of authorship was determined alphabetically. Correspondence may be addressed to any of the authors.
Keywords adaptation   ADHD   brain allometry   constraint   epistemology   evolutionary psychology   exaptation   female orgasm   optimization   special design   waist-hip ratio (WHR)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,449
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA
Pierre Deleporte (2007). Behavioral Innovation and Phylogeography. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (4):408-409.
Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

22 ( #79,923 of 1,103,233 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

8 ( #29,862 of 1,103,233 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.