Re: Adaptationism's Lessons (was Re: Evolution, "adaptation")

Paul Gallagher (
18 Sep 1996 22:03:05 -0400

For what's it worth, I'd like to recommend some articles. They're
not about sociobiology. They're about adaptationism. I've avoided articles
by Gould, Kitcher, or Midgley, since some people don't cotton
to them. Still, it should make it clear that just because people disagree
with the "modern adaptationist paradigm," they're not "demonstrably
ignorant" of biology or ditching "prediction testing science." (Or if they
are, they have lots of company.)

Remember: you're not dealing with Creationists here. Natural selection is one
of the causes of the good design we see in nature. They've heard about that.
But simply elucidating the function of morphology (and ethology) is not the
same as explaining its origin. And the study of evolution is more than the
study of adaptation.

Amundson, R. "Trials and tribulations of selectionist explanations." In
"Issues in Evolutionary Epistemology," ed. by K. Hahlweg and C.A. Hooker.

Amundson, R. "Two concepts of constraint: adaptationism and the challenge
from developmental biology." Philosophy of science 61: 556-578.

Lewontin, R. "The Structure of evolutionary genetics." In Conceptual Issues
in Evolutionary Biology, ed. E. Sober.

Murphy, E.A. "Quantitative genetics: a critique." Social Biology 26: 126-141.

About eye evolution (which someone got to be part of this thread, probably
because of the prominent place it has in Dawkins' argument. This also
deals with developmental constraints, especially the Pax6 gene):

Halder, G. et al. "New Perspectives on eye evolution." Current opinion in
genetics and development. 5: 602-609.

Zucker,C. "On the evolution of eyes." Science 265: 742-743.

Carroll,S.B. "Hoemeotic genes and the evolution of arthropods and chordates."
Nature 376: 479-485.