Seven types of adaptationism

Biology and Philosophy 24 (2):161-182 (2009)
Abstract
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 hypotheses more thoroughly than was usual in the 1970s. Here it is argued that the ‘Spandrels’ paper points towards a genuinely non-adaptationist methodology implicit in much evolutionary developmental biology. This conclusion helps to expose the links between older debates over adaptationism and more recent questions about the property of evolvability.
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    References found in this work BETA
    Tim Lewens (2007). Adaptation. In David L. Hull & Michael Ruse (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Philosophy of Biology. Cambridge University Press.
    Tim Lewens (2002). Adaptationism and Engineering. Biology and Philosophy 17 (1):1-31.

    View all 10 references

    Citations of this work BETA
    Jonathan Birch (2012). Robust Processes and Teleological Language. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (3):299-312.

    View all 11 citations

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