David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 28 (5):719-745 (2013)
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 progress within evolutionary biology, (2) forged divisions between evolutionary biology and adjacent disciplines and (3) obstructed several contemporary debates in biology. Here we expand on our earlier (Laland et al. in Science 334:1512–1516, 2011) argument that Mayr’s dichotomous formulation has now run its useful course, and that evolutionary biology would be better served by a concept of reciprocal causation, in which causation is perceived to cycle through biological systems recursively. We further suggest that a newer evolutionary synthesis is unlikely to emerge without this change in thinking about causation
|Keywords||Niche construction Nongenetic inheritance Evo-devo Cultural evolution|
|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
André Ariew (2003). Ernst Mayr's 'Ultimate/Proximate' Distinction Reconsidered and Reconstructed. Biology and Philosophy 18 (4):553-565.
Patrick Bateson (2004). The Active Role of Behaviour in Evolution. Biology and Philosophy 19 (2):283-298.
Maciej Chudek & Joseph Henrich (2011). Culture–Gene Coevolution, Norm-Psychology and the Emergence of Human Prosociality. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (5):218-226.
Richard Dawkins (2004). Extended Phenotype – but Not Too Extended. A Reply to Laland, Turner and Jablonka. Biology and Philosophy 19 (3):377-396.
Citations of this work BETA
Ward B. Watt (2013). Causal Mechanisms of Evolution and the Capacity for Niche Construction. Biology and Philosophy 28 (5):757-766.
Brett Calcott (2013). Why How and Why Aren't Enough: More Problems with Mayr's Proximate-Ultimate Distinction. Biology and Philosophy 28 (5):767-780.
David Haig (2013). Proximate and Ultimate Causes: How Come? And What For? [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 28 (5):781-786.
Kevin N. Laland, John Odling-Smee, William Hoppitt & Tobias Uller (2013). More on How and Why: A Response to Commentaries. Biology and Philosophy 28 (5):793-810.
Kim Sterelny (2013). Cooperation in a Complex World: The Role of Proximate Factors in Ultimate Explanations. [REVIEW] Biological Theory 7 (4):358-367.
Similar books and articles
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.
Kevin N. Laland, John Odling-Smee & Marcus W. Feldman (2005). On the Breadth and Significance of Niche Construction: A Reply to Griffiths, Okasha and Sterelny. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 20 (1):37-55.
Kevin N. Laland, John Odling-Smee, Marcus W. Feldman & Jeremy Kendal (2009). Conceptual Barriers to Progress Within Evolutionary Biology. Foundations of Science 14 (3):195-216.
N. Laland Kevin, Marcus John Odling-Smee & Jeremy Kendal W. Feldman (2009). Conceptual Barriers to Progress Within Evolutionary Biology. Foundations of Science 14 (3).
James Woodward (2010). Causation in Biology: Stability, Specificity, and the Choice of Levels of Explanation. Biology and Philosophy 25 (3):287-318.
J. L. Mommaerts & Dirk Devroey (2012). The Placebo Effect: How the Subconscious Fits In. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 55 (1):43-58.
Alexander Hooke (2005). Justice and Biology Revisited. Philosophy Now 49:20-22.
Ernst Mayr (1972). Lamarck Revisited. Journal of the History of Biology 5 (1):55 - 94.
Wim J. van der Steen (2000). Niche Construction: A Pervasive Force in Evolution? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (1):162-163.
Franklin G. Miller (2005). William James, Faith, and the Placebo Effect. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 48 (2):273-281.
Jim Good & Jim Garrison (2011). Dewey, Hegel, and Causation. Journal of Speculative Philosophy 24 (2):101-120.
Mikuláš Teich (2007). Haldane and Lysenko Revisited. Journal of the History of Biology 40 (3):557 - 563.
Diane B. Paul (1987). "Our Load of Mutations" Revisited. Journal of the History of Biology 20 (3):321 - 335.
Paul Griffiths (2003). Beyond the Baldwin Effect: James Mark Baldwin's 'Social Heredity', Epigenetic Inheritance, and Niche Construction. In Bruce H. Weber & David J. Depew (eds.), Evolution and Learning: The Baldwin Effect Reconsidered. Mit Press. 193--215.
Added to index2012-08-07
Total downloads43 ( #46,962 of 1,679,372 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #111,749 of 1,679,372 )
How can I increase my downloads?