Optimality in Biology

The Monist 81 (4):669-686 (1998)
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In 1979 Harvard biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard C. Lewontin published an essay entitled “The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme.” The target of their critique is a style of thinking rooted in “the near omnipotence of natural selection in forging organic design and fashioning the best among possible worlds.” According to Gould and Lewontin, adaptationists assume that all traits of an organism are products of natural selection, and that the traits were favored by natural selection because they were optimal solutions to problems posed by the environment. Gould and Lewontin called the adaptationist program the Panglossian paradigm because they saw strong parallels between the arguments of Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide and the arguments of adaptationists and optimality theorists in biology.



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Leibniz Reinterpreted.Lloyd Strickland - 2006 - London, UK: Continuum.
``Two'' many optimalities.Oscar Vilarroya - 2002 - Biology and Philosophy 17 (2):251-270.

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