David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 22 (4):579-601 (2007)
Here we discuss the challenge posed by self-organization to the Darwinian conception of evolution. As we point out, natural selection can only be the major creative agency in evolution if all or most of the adaptive complexity manifest in living organisms is built up over many generations by the cumulative selection of naturally occurring small, random mutations or variants, i.e., additive, incremental steps over an extended period of time. Biological self-organization—witnessed classically in the folding of a protein, or in the formation of the cell membrane—is a fundamentally different means of generating complexity. We agree that self-organizing systems may be fine-tuned by selection and that self-organization may be therefore considered a complementary mechanism to natural selection as a causal agency in the evolution of life. But we argue that if self-organization proves to be a common mechanism for the generation of adaptive order from the molecular to the organismic level, then this will greatly undermine the Darwinian claim that natural selection is the major creative agency in evolution. We also point out that although complex self-organizing systems are easy to create in the electronic realm of cellular automata, to date translating in silico simulations into real material structures that self-organize into complex forms from local interactions between their constituents has not proved easy. This suggests that self-organizing systems analogous to those utilized by biological systems are at least rare and may indeed represent, as pre-Darwinists believed, a unique ascending hierarchy of natural forms. Such a unique adaptive hierarchy would pose another major challenge to the current Darwinian view of evolution, as it would mean the basic forms of life are necessary features of the order of nature and that the major pathways of evolution are determined by physical law, or more specifically by the self-organizing properties of biomatter, rather than natural selection.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
Michael J. Denton, Govindasamy Kumaramanickavel & Michael Legge (2013). Cells as Irreducible Wholes: The Failure of Mechanism and the Possibility of an Organicist Revival. Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):31-52.
Similar books and articles
Sergey N. Rumyantsev (1997). Chemical Ecology and Biomolecular Evolution. Acta Biotheoretica 45 (1).
Bruce H. Weber & David J. Depew (1996). Natural Selection and Self-Organization. Biology and Philosophy 11 (1):33-65.
Stuart A. Kauffman (1990). The Sciences of Complexity and "Origins of Order". PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:299 - 322.
Maximiliano Martínez & Andrés Moya (2011). Natural Selection and Multi-Level Causation. Philosophy and Theory in Biology 3 (20130604).
Kim Sterelny (1994). Science and Selection. Biology and Philosophy 9 (1):45-62.
Denis M. Walsh (2003). Fit and Diversity: Explaining Adaptive Evolution. Philosophy of Science 70 (2):280-301.
Matt Gers (2012). Overqualified: Generative Replicators as Darwinian Reproducers. Biology and Philosophy 27 (4):595-605.
G. K. D. Crozier (2008). Reconsidering Cultural Selection Theory. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):455-479.
Alvaro Moreno & Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo (2009). The Problem of the Emergence of Functional Diversity in Prebiotic Evolution. Biology and Philosophy 24 (5):585-605.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads20 ( #88,873 of 1,099,914 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #67,010 of 1,099,914 )
How can I increase my downloads?