Biology and Philosophy 24 (5):585-605 (2009)

Kepa Ruiz Mirazo
University of the Basque Country
Since Darwin it is widely accepted that natural selection (NS) is the most important mechanism to explain how biological organisms—in their amazing variety—evolve and, therefore, also how the complexity of certain natural systems can increase over time, creating ever new functions or functional structures/relationships. Nevertheless, the way in which NS is conceived within Darwinian Theory already requires an open, wide enough, functional domain where selective forces may act. And, as the present paper will try to show, this becomes even more evident if one looks into the problem of origins. If there was a time when NS was not operating (as it is quite reasonable to assume), where did that initial functional diversity, necessary to trigger off the process, come from? Self-organization processes may be part of the answer, as many authors have claimed in recent years, but surely not the complete one. We will argue here that a special type of self-maintaining organization, arising from the interplay among a set of different endogenously produced constraints (pre-enzymatic catalysts and primitive compartments included), is required for the appearance of functional diversity in the first place. Starting from that point, NS can progressively lead to new (and, at times, also more complex) organizations that, in turn, provide wider functional variety to be selected for, enlarging in this way the range of action and consequences of the mechanism of NS, in a kind of mutually enhancing effect.
Keywords Philosophy   Evolutionary Biology   Philosophy of Biology
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-009-9178-6
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References found in this work BETA

In Defense of Proper Functions.Ruth Garrett Millikan - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (June):288-302.
Investigations.Stuart A. Kauffman - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
An Organizational Account of Biological Functions.Matteo Mossio, Cristian Saborido & Alvaro Moreno - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):813-841.

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Citations of this work BETA

Biological Organization and Cross-Generation Functions.Cristian Saborido, Matteo Mossio & Alvaro Moreno - 2011 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (3):583-606.
Genidentity and Biological Processes.Thomas Pradeu - 2018 - In Daniel J. Nicholson & John Dupre (eds.), Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology. Oxford University Press.

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