Aja Watkins
Boston University
Phenotypic plasticity, or an organism’s capacity to change its phenotype in response to environmental variation, is a pervasive—perhaps even ubiquitous—feature of the biological world. Accordingly, plasticity research suggests serious implications for biological theory, including evolutionary theory. The theoretical implications of plasticity have growing support from empirical literature documenting the range, extent, and adaptiveness of plasticity. However, the empirical evidence for particular instances of plasticity has still not been adequately scrutinized by biologists or philosophers. After reviewing some important conceptual and theoretical background information, this paper synthesizes some past discussions of the methodology of plasticity studies and provides some novel methodological guidance for plasticity researchers. My conclusion is that not all plasticity studies should carry the same weight: there are patterns we can identify in the features of such studies that should contribute to their credibility. In particular, I argue that some types of organisms and some types of plastic phenotypes are more conducive to the empirical study of plasticity than others.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.3998/ptpbio.16039257.0013.003
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,740
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Evolution of Phenotypic Plasticity: Where Are We Going Now?Massimo Pigliucci - 2005 - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20 (9):481-486.
The Evolution of Phenotypic Plasticity: Genealogy of a Debate in Genetics.Antonine Nicoglou - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 50:67-76.


Added to PP index

Total views
22 ( #500,692 of 2,462,870 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #144,426 of 2,462,870 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes