Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 112 (2):261-267 (2013)
Ever since Darwin a great deal of the conceptual history of biology may be read as a struggle between two philosophical positions: reductionism and holism. On the one hand, we have the reductionist claim that evolution has to be understood in terms of changes at the fundamental causal level of the gene. As Richard Dawkins famously put it, organisms are just ‘lumbering robots’ in the service of their genetic masters. On the other hand, there is a long holistic tradition that focuses on the complexity of developmental systems, on the non-linearity of gene– environment interactions, and on multi-level selective processes to argue that the full story of biology is a bit more complicated than that. Reductionism can marshal on its behalf the spectacular successes of genetics and molecular biology throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Holism has built on the development of entirely new disciplines and conceptual frameworks over the past few decades, including evo-devo and phenotypic plasticity. Yet, a number of biologists are still actively looking for a way out of the reductionism–holism counterposition, often mentioning the word ‘emergence’ as a way to deal with the conundrum. This paper briefly examines the philosophical history of the concept of emergence, distinguishes between epistemic and ontological accounts of it, and comments on conceptions of emergence that can actually be useful for practising evolutionary biologists.
|Keywords||holism reductionism evo-devo|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Chance Between Holism and Reductionism: Tensions in the Conceptualisation of Life.Charles T. Wolfe - 2012 - Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology.
How Developmental is Evolutionary Developmental Biology?Jason Scott Robert - 2002 - Biology and Philosophy 17 (5):591-611.
Holism and Reductionism: A View From Genetics.Arthur Zucker - 1981 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 6 (2):145-164.
Holism Vs. Reductionism: Do Ecosystem Ecology and Landscape Ecology Clarify the Debate?Donato Bergandi & Patrick Blandin - 1998 - Acta Biotheoretica 46 (3):185-206.
Explanation, Emergence and Quantum-Entanglement.Andreas Hüttemann - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (1):114-127.
How Development Changes Evolution: Conceptual and Historical Issues in Evolutionary Developmental Biology. [REVIEW]Stavros Ioannidis - 2008 - Biology and Philosophy 23 (4):567-578.
Darwinian Reductionism, or, How to Stop Worrying and Love Molecular Biology.Alexander Rosenberg - 2006 - University of Chicago Press.
Defending Evo‐Devo: A Response to Hoekstra and Coyne.Lindsay R. Craig - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (3):335-344.
The Re-Emergence of Emergence, and the Causal Role of Synergy in Emergent Evolution.Peter A. Corning - 2012 - Synthese 185 (2):295-317.
Holism, Communication, and the Emergence of Public Meaning: Lessons From an Economic Analogy.Andrew Kenneth Jorgensen - 2009 - Philosophia 37 (1):133-147.
Holism and Radical Interpretation: The Limitations of a Formal Theory of Meaning.Karsten R. Stueber - 1997 - In Analyomen 2, Volume II: Philosophy of Language, Metaphysics. Hawthorne: De Gruyter.
Teaching Holism in Environmental Ethics.Michael P. Nelson - 2010 - Environmental Ethics 32 (1):33-49.
What Evolvability Really Is.Rachael L. Brown - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (3):axt014.
Added to index2013-04-23
Total downloads1,043 ( #648 of 2,168,638 )
Recent downloads (6 months)78 ( #2,064 of 2,168,638 )
How can I increase my downloads?