David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 21 (1):41-70 (2006)
Modern biology is ambivalent about the notion of evolutionary progress. Although most evolutionists imply in their writings that they still understand large-scale macroevolution as a somewhat progressive process, the use of the term “progress” is increasingly criticized and avoided. The paper shows that this ambivalence has a long history and results mainly from three problems: (1) The term “progress” carries historical, theoretical and social implications which are not congruent with modern knowledge of the course of evolution; (2) An incongruence exists between the notion of progress and Darwin’s theory of selection; (3) It is still not possible to give more than a rudimentary definition of the general patterns that were generated during the macroevolution of organisms. The paper consists of two parts: the first is a historical overview of the roots of the term “progress” in evolutionary biology, the second discusses epistemological, ontological and empirical problems. It is stated that the term has so far served as a metaphor for general patterns generated amongst organisms during evolution. It is proposed that a reformulation is needed to eliminate historically imported implications and that it is necessary to develop a concept for an appropriate empirical description of macroevolutionary patterns. This is the third way between, on the one hand, using the term indiscriminately and, on the other hand, ignoring the general patterns that evolution has produced.
|Keywords||Biological autonomy Complexity Directionality Epistemology Evolutionary progress History Macroevolution Trends|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
|Through your library||Configure|
Similar books and articles
Leslie Sklair (1968). Gomte and the Idea of Progress. Inquiry 11 (1-4):321 – 331.
David N. Stamos (1996). Popper, Falsifiability, and Evolutionary Biology. Biology and Philosophy 11 (2):161-191.
Kai Hahlweg (1981). Progress Through Evolution? An Inquiry Into the Thought of C.H. Waddington. Acta Biotheoretica 30 (2).
Jerry Fodor (2008). Against Darwinism. Mind and Language 23 (1):1–24.
Kai Hahlweg (1991). On the Notion of Evolutionary Progress. Philosophy of Science 58 (3):436-451.
James Maclaurin & Tim Cochrane (2012). Progress in Evolutionary Economics. Journal of Bioeconomics 14 (2):101-14.
Gregory Radick (2000). Two Explanations of Evolutionary Progress. Biology and Philosophy 15 (4):475-491.
Timothy Shanahan (2004). The Evolution of Darwinism: Selection, Adaptation, and Progress in Evolutionary Biology. Cambridge University Press.
T. Shanahan (2001). Methodological and Contextual Factors in the Dawkins/Gould Dispute Over Evolutionary Progress. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 32 (1):127-151.
Kim Sterelny (2000). Development, Evolution, and Adaptation. Philosophy of Science 67 (3):387.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads17 ( #80,594 of 1,008,233 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #64,735 of 1,008,233 )
How can I increase my downloads?