Year:

  1.  18
    The Darwinian Turn in the Understanding of Biological Environment.Gustavo Caponi - 2022 - Biological Theory 17 (1):20-35.
    The Darwinian revolution supposed and imposed a much broader and more complex concept of environment than that which, until that moment, had been considered by most as part of natural history. Until Darwin, the environment of living beings had been regarded, almost exclusively, as the inanimate surroundings. This pre-Darwinian notion of environment included physicochemical and climatic variables: the living beings themselves were scarcely considered, or they were regarded just as food to be assimilated. In contrast, with Darwin, the influence of (...)
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  2. Adapting to Environmental Heterogeneity: Selection and Radiation.Hugh Desmond - 2022 - Biological Theory 17 (1):80-93.
    Environmental heterogeneity is invoked as a key explanatory factor in the adaptive evolution of a surprisingly wide range of phenomena. This article aims to analyze this explanatory scheme of categorizing traits or properties as adaptations to environmental heterogeneity. First it is suggested that this scheme can be understood as a reaction to how heterogeneity adaptations were discounted or ignored in the modern synthesis. Then a positive account is proposed, distinguishing between two broad categories of adaptation to environmental heterogeneity: properties selected (...)
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  3.  10
    Functionalism Without Selectionism: Charles Elton's "Functional" Niche and the Concept of Ecological Function.Antoine C. Dussault - 2022 - Biological Theory 17 (1):52-67.
    This article offers an analysis of ecologist Charles Elton’s “functional” concept of the niche and of the notion of function implicitly associated with it. It does so in part by situating Elton’s niche concept within the broader context of the “functionalist-interactionist” approach to ecology he introduced, and in relation to his views on the relationship between ecology and evolution. This involves criticizing the common claim that Elton’s idea of species as fulfilling functional roles within ecological communities committed him to an (...)
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  4.  8
    What Is It Like To Be an Environment? A Semantic and Epistemological Inquiry.Philippe Huneman - 2022 - Biological Theory 17 (1):94-112.
    In this article, I consider the term “environment” in various claims and models by evolutionists and ecologists. I ask whether “environment” is amenable to a philosophical explication, in the same way some key terms of evolutionary theorizing such as “fitness,” “species,” or more recently “population” have been. I will claim that it cannot. In the first section, I propose a typology of theoretical terms, according to whether they are univocal or equivocal, and whether they have been the object of formal (...)
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  5.  4
    Environmental Inheritance: Conceptual Ambiguities and Theoretical Issues.Gaëlle Pontarotti - 2022 - Biological Theory 17 (1):36-51.
    The concept of biological inheritance has recently been extended so as to integrate, among other elements, parts of organisms’ environments. The literature refers to the trans-generational reconstruction of these parts in terms of environmental or ecological inheritance. This article’s main objective is to clarify the different meanings of "environmental inheritance," to underline so far unnoticed theoretical difficulties associated to this polysemous notion and to consequently argue that inheritance, even when extended, should be theoretically distinguished from trans-generational environmental stability. After disentangling (...)
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  6.  5
    Conceptualizing the Environment in Natural Sciences: Guest Editorial.Gaëlle Pontarotti, Antoine C. Dussault & Francesca Merlin - 2022 - Biological Theory 17 (1):1-3.
    The concept of biological inheritance has recently been extended so as to integrate, among other elements, parts of organisms’ environments. The literature refers to the trans-generational reconstruction of these parts in terms of environmental or ecological inheritance. This article’s main objective is to clarify the different meanings of "environmental inheritance," to underline so far unnoticed theoretical difficulties associated to this polysemous notion and to consequently argue that inheritance, even when extended, should be theoretically distinguished from trans-generational environmental stability. After disentangling (...)
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  7.  1
    The Rise of the “Environment”: Lamarckian Environmentalism Between Life Sciences and Social Philosophy.Ferhat Taylan - 2022 - Biological Theory 17 (1):4-19.
    It is common to designate Lamarck and Lamarckism as the main historical references for conceptualizing the relationship between organisms and the environment. The Lamarckian principle of the inheritance of acquired characters is often considered to be the central aspect of the “environmentalism” developed in this lineage, up to recent debates concerning the possible Lamarckian origins of epigenetics. Rather than focusing only on heredity, this article will explore the materialist aspect of the Lamarckian conception of the environment, seeking to highlight that (...)
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  8.  25
    Environment as Abstraction.Denis Walsh - 2022 - Biological Theory 17 (1):68-79.
    The concept of the environment appears to be indispensably involved in adaptive explanation. Quite what its role is, however, is a matter of some dispute. The environment is customarily viewed as the dual of the organism; a wholly external, discrete, autonomous cause of evolution. On this view, the external environment is the principal cause of the adaptedness of form, and the determinant of what it is to be an adaptation. I argue that this conception of the environment neither adequately explains (...)
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