Journal Article

The Historical Turn in the Study of Adaptation

Paul E. Griffiths

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 47, issue 4, pages 511-532
Published in print December 1996 | ISSN: 0007-0882
e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/47.4.511
The Historical Turn in the Study of Adaptation

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A number of philosophers and ‘evolutionary psychologists’ have argued that attacks on adaptationism in contemporary biology are misguided. These thinkers identify anti-adaptationism with advocacy of non-adaptive modes of explanation. They overlook the influence of anti-adaptationism in the development of more rigorous forms of adaptive explanation. Many biologists who reject adaptationism do not reject Darwinism. Instead, they have pioneered the contemporary historical turn in the study of adaptation. One real issue which remains unresolved amongst these methodological advances is the nature of ‘phylogenetic inertia’. To what extent is an adaptive explanation needed for the persistence of a trait as well as its origin?.

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Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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