Generative Entrenchment and Evolution

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:33 - 60 (1986)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The generative entrenchment of an entity is a measure of how much of the generated structure or activity of a complex system depends upon the presence or activity of that entity. It is argued that entities with higher degrees of generative entrenchment are more conservative in evolutionary changes of such systems. A variety of models of complex structures incorporating the effects of generative entrenchment are presented and we demonstrate their relevance in analyzing and explaining a variety of developmental and evolutionary phenomena, both on a macroscopic developmental and evolutionary scale, and using models and strategies pioneered by Kauffman, on the more microscopic scale appropriate to the analysis of the structure and behavior of gene control networks. The resulting picture suggests that generative entrenchment acts as a powerful and constructive developmental constraint on the course of evolutionary processes. Since virtually any system exhibits varying degrees of generative entrenchment among its parts and activities, these studies and results have in addition broad potential application for the analysis of generative structures in other areas.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 93,098

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Simple systems and phylogenetic diversity.William C. Wimsatt - 1998 - Philosophy of Science 65 (2):267-275.
Evolutionary Contingency, Stability, and Biological Laws.Jani Raerinne - 2015 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 46 (1):45-62.
The "I"-Entity: A Treatise on the Self-Other Relation.Dorothy L. Taylor - 1994 - Dissertation, The University of Chicago
Generative and evolutionary models for design.John H. Frazer & Patrick Janssen - 2003 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 36 (3/4):187-215.
General generative principles.Th E. Sprey - 1993 - Acta Biotheoretica 41 (4):481-494.


Added to PP

130 (#144,675)

6 months
14 (#200,872)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

William C. Wimsatt
University of Minnesota

Citations of this work

Hierarchies, Networks, and Causality: The Applied Evolutionary Epistemological Approach.Nathalie Gontier - 2021 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 52 (2):313-334.
The cognitive unconscious: An evolutionary perspective.Arthur S. Reber - 1992 - Consciousness and Cognition 1 (2):93-133.
Towards a unified science of cultural evolution.Alex Mesoudi, Andrew Whiten & Kevin N. Laland - 2006 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4):329-347.
The historical turn in the study of adaptation.Paul E. Griffiths - 1996 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (4):511-532.

View all 28 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references