The tragedy of a priori selectionism: Dennett and Gould on adaptationism [Book Review]

Biology and Philosophy 13 (3):359-391 (1998)
In his recent book on Darwinism, Daniel Dennett has offered up a species of a priori selectionism that he calls algorithmic. He used this view to challenge a number of positions advocated by Stephen J. Gould. I examine his algorithmic conception, review his unqualified enthusiasm for the a priori selectionist position, challenge Dennett's main metaphors (cranes vs. skyhooks and a design space), examine ways in which his position has lead him to misunderstand or misrepresent Gould (spandrels, exaptation, punctuated equilibrium, contingency and disparity), and discuss recent results in developmental biology that suggest that an a priori position does not fill the demands of an evolutionary biology. I conclude by insisting that evolutionary biology is many leveled, complicated, and is carried on an ever shifting and expanding empirical base that when disregarded results in caricature.
Keywords adaptation  algorithm  atavism  contingency  deep homology  Dennett  development  disparity  epicurean selectionism  evolution  exaptation  Gould  metaphors  punctuated equilibrium  selectionism  spandrels
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DOI 10.1023/A:1006508719300
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Marcin Miłkowski (2009). Is Evolution Algorithmic? Minds and Machines 19 (4):465-475.

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