Authors
Timothy Shanahan
Loyola Marymount University
Abstract
In an influential paper, Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin contrasted selection-driven adaptation with phylogenetic, architectural, and developmental constraints as distinct causes of phenotypic evolution. In subsequent publications Gould has elaborated this distinction into one between a narrow “Darwinian Fundamentalist” emphasis on “external functionalist” processes, and a more inclusive “pluralist” emphasis on “internal structuralist” principles. Although theoretical integration of functionalist and structuralist explanations is the ultimate aim, natural selection and internal constraints are treated as distinct causes of evolutionary change. This distinction is now routinely taken for granted in the literature in evolutionary biology. I argue that this distinction is problematic because the effects attributed to non-selective constraints are more parsimoniously explained as the ordinary effects of selection itself. Although it may still be a useful shorthand to speak of phylogenetic, architectural, and developmental constraints on phenotypic evolution, it is important to understand that such “constraints” do not constitute an alternative set of causes of evolutionary change. The result of this analysis is a clearer understanding of the relationship between adaptation, selection and constraints as explanatory concepts in evolutionary theory
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2007.12.008
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References found in this work BETA

Constraining the Adaptationism Debate.Roger Sansom - 2003 - Biology and Philosophy 18 (4):493-512.

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Citations of this work BETA

Optimality Modelling in the Real World.Jean-Sébastien Bolduc & Frank Cézilly - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (6):851-869.
Behavioural Ecology's Ethological Roots.Jean-Sébastien Bolduc - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (3):674-683.
Phylogenetic Inertia and Darwin's Higher Law.Timothy Shanahan - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (1):60-68.
Phylogenetic Inertia and Darwin’s Higher Law.Timothy Shanahan - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (1):60-68.

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