Evo-devo meets the mind: Toward a developmental evolutionary psychology

In Roger Sansom & Robert Brandon (eds.), Integrating Evolution and Development: From Theory to Practice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. pp. 195-225 (2007)

Abstract

The emerging discipline of evolutionary developmental biology has opened up many new lines of investigation into morphological evolution. Here I explore how two of the core theoretical concepts in ‘evo-devo’ – modularity and homology – apply to evolutionary psychology. I distinguish three sorts of module – developmental, functional and mental modules and argue that mental modules need only be ‘virtual’ functional modules. Evolutionary psychologists have argued that separate mental modules are solutions to separate evolutionary problems. I argue that the structure of developmental modules in an organism helps determine what counts as a separate evolutionary problem for that organism. I suggest that homology as an organizing principle for research in evolutionary psychology, has been severely neglected in favor of analogy (adaptive function). I consider some arguments suggesting that determining homology is less epistemically demanding than determining adaptive function and argue that psychological categories defined by homology are, in fact, more suitable objects of psychological – and particularly neuropsychological – investigation than categories defined by analogy.

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Paul Edmund Griffiths
University of Sydney

Citations of this work

Convergence as Evidence.Adrian Currie - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (4):763-786.
Concepts and Objects.Ray Brassier - 2011 - In Levi R. Bryant, Nick Srnicek & Graham Harman (eds.), The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. re.press.

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