David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 39 (1):135-146 (2008)
In an influential paper, Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin contrasted selection-driven adaptation with phylogenetic, architectural, and developmental constraints as distinct causes of phenotypic evolution. In subsequent publications Gould has elaborated this distinction into one between a narrow “Darwinian Fundamentalist” emphasis on “external functionalist” processes, and a more inclusive “pluralist” emphasis on “internal structuralist” principles. Although theoretical integration of functionalist and structuralist explanations is the ultimate aim, natural selection and internal constraints are treated as distinct causes of evolutionary change. This distinction is now routinely taken for granted in the literature in evolutionary biology. I argue that this distinction is problematic because the effects attributed to non-selective constraints are more parsimoniously explained as the ordinary effects of selection itself. Although it may still be a useful shorthand to speak of phylogenetic, architectural, and developmental constraints on phenotypic evolution, it is important to understand that such “constraints” do not constitute an alternative set of causes of evolutionary change. The result of this analysis is a clearer understanding of the relationship between adaptation, selection and constraints as explanatory concepts in evolutionary theory
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Trevor Pearce (2011). Evolution and Constraints on Variation: Variant Specification and Range of Assessment. Philosophy of Science 78 (5):739-751.
Timothy Shanahan (2011). Phylogenetic Inertia and Darwin's Higher Law. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (1):60-68.
Jean-Sébastien Bolduc (2012). Behavioural Ecology's Ethological Roots. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (3):674-683.
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