Made by each other: Organisms and their environment [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 20 (1):21-36 (2005)
The standard picture of evolution, is externalist: a causal arrow runs from environment to organism, and that arrow explains why organisms are as they are (Godfrey-Smith 1996). Natural selection allows a lineage to accommodate itself to the specifics of its environment. As the interior of Australia became hotter and drier, phenotypes changed in many lineages of plants and animals, so that those organisms came to suit the new conditions under which they lived. Odling-Smee, Laland and Feldman, building on the work of Richard Lewontin, have shown that while sometimes appropriate, this is an inadequate conception of the relationship between organisms and the environments in which they live. Over time organisms alter their environment as well as being altered by their environments (Lewontin 1982; Lewontin 1983; Lewontin 1985). For example, animals modulate the effects of their physical and biological environment by building shelters: the beaver’s dam and lodge system, and termite mounds are two famous cases of animal structures, but they are few of many. There are many thousands of animals which make nests, burrows and other shelters. Likewise, animals make tools that give them access to resources from which they would otherwise be excluded: thus the Galapagos woodpecker finch uses a cactus needle to extract insects from crevasses in bark — insects that they would otherwise be unable to catch (Tebbich, Taborsky et al. 2001). Tool making is not as common as shelter-making, but it is common. For example many animals make traps: there are many species of pit-making antlions. Thus in part organisms make the world in which they live. They partially construct their own niches. Odling-Smee, Laland and Feldman argue that this has five major and under-appreciated consequences for biological theory.
|Keywords||Philosophy Philosophy of Biology Evolutionary Biology|
|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
Richard C. Lewontin (2000). The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment. Harvard University Press.
Peter Godfrey-Smith (1996). Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature. Cambridge University Press.
R. C. Lewontin (1983). The Organism as the Subject and Object of Evolution. Scientia 77 (18):65.
Citations of this work BETA
Armin W. Schulz (2014). Niche Construction, Adaptive Preferences, and the Differences Between Fitness and Utility. Biology and Philosophy 29 (3):315-335.
Trevor Pearce (2011). Ecosystem Engineering, Experiment, and Evolution. Biology and Philosophy 26 (6):793-812.
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.
Emanuele Archetti (2015). Three Kinds of Constructionism: The Role of Metaphor in the Debate Over Niche Constructionism. Biological Theory 10 (2):103-115.
James Justus (2011). Evidentiary Inference in Evolutionary Biology. Biology and Philosophy 26 (3):419-437.
Similar books and articles
Angelo Cangelosi & Domenico Parisi (1998). Concepts in Artificial Organisms. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (1):68-69.
Kim Sterelny (2004). Externalism, Epistemic Artefacts and the Extended Mind. In Richard Schantz (ed.), The Externalist Challenge. De Gruyter 239--254.
Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi (2002). Surrounding Space. Theory in Biosciences 121:139-162.
Marshall Abrams (2009). What Determines Biological Fitness? The Problem of the Reference Environment. Synthese 166 (1):21 - 40.
Daniel Dennett (1992). Hitting the Nail on the Head. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 15 (1):35-35.
Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi (2001). Environmental Metaphysics. In Metaphysics in the Post-Metaphysical Age. Proceedings of the 22nd International Wittgenstein-Symposium. Öbv&Hpt
Peter Godfrey-Smith (2000). Niche Construction in Biological and Philosophical Theories. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (1):153-154.
Kevin N. Laland, John Odling-Smee & Marcus W. Feldman (2000). Niche Construction, Biological Evolution, and Cultural Change. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (1):131-146.
Michael T. Ghiselin (1966). On Semantic Pitfalls of Biological Adaptation. Philosophy of Science 33 (1/2):147-.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads123 ( #21,522 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)62 ( #19,586 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?