In the evolutionary biology of the Modern Synthesis the study of patterns refers to how to identify and systematise order in lineages, looking for hierarchies or for branching/splitting events in the tree of life, whereas the resulting order is supposed to be due to underlying processes or mechanisms. But patterns and processes play distinct roles in evo-devo: four different views on the role of patterns and processes in descriptions and explanations of development and evolution: A) transformational; B) generative; C) processual; (...) and D) complex are reviewed in this paper. Then, this discussion is related to two issues in evo-devo: homology and variation. (shrink)
The work of Pere Alberch is crucial to study the early stages of evo-devo. In particular, it illustrates very persuasively why developmental systems have so much to say about the course of evolutionary change. In addition to an important empirical work, he elaborated a stimulating framework of theoretical ideas on biological form, morphological variation, and how developmental processes establish possible evolutionary paths previous to the action of natural selection. In this framework, the study of development and evolution are related through (...) the notion of possible morphologies. In his view, the morphology of organisms shows internal coherence and structure, emergent from complex non linear interactions among parts and with the environment. (shrink)
In the Modern Synthesis the study of patterns refers to how to identify and systematize order in lineages (description), attributed to underlying processes or mechanisms (explanation). But patterns and processes play distinct roles in evodevo. In this paper we (1) distinguish three different views (the transformational, the morphogenetic and the process approach) according to the role they play in the description and explanation of development and evolution, and (2) relate this discussion to the issues of homology and variation.
In September 2008, 10 years after the untimely death of Pere Alberch (1954–1998), the 20th Altenberg Workshop in Theoretical Biology gathered a group of Pere’s students, col- laborators, and colleagues (Figure 1) to celebrate his contribu- tions to the origins of EvoDevo. Hosted by the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI) outside Vienna, the group met for two days of discussion. The meeting was organized in tandem with a congress held in May 2008 at the Cavanilles Institute (...) for Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology (ICBiBE) in Valencia, Spain. The talks at the KLI were equal parts: nostalgic remembrance, excitement over new ways of thinking about old problems, and an unrepressed vitriol against the resurgence of reductionist thinking in EvoDevo. Here we highlight some of the key aspects of Pere’s life and work that informed and infused the talks. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to examine how the notion of biological autonomy may be linked to other notions of autonomy usual in philosophical discussions. Starting in the 70s, the Chilean biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela developed a theory of life as autopoiesis which gives rise to a new conception of autonomy: biological autonomy. The development of this concept implies the recovery of the notion of the organism in a scientific context in which biology and philosophy of biology (...) are focused on the study of the gene by Molecular Biology and evolution by natural selection, by the so called Modern Synthesis. Here we try to show some implications of the concept of life as autonomy for current biology and how this concept can be related to other more usual ones in philosophy. (shrink)