Challenging the Modern Synthesis: Adaptation, Development, and Inheritance

ISBN : 9780199377176

Philippe Huneman; Denis Walsh
352 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Oct 2017
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Since its origin in the early 20th century, the Modern Synthesis theory of evolution has grown to become the orthodox view on the process of organic evolution. Its central defining feature is the prominence it accords to genes in the explanation of evolutionary dynamics. Since the advent of the 21st century, however, the Modern Synthesis has been subject to repeated and sustained challenges. These are largely empirically driven. In the last two decades, evolutionary biology has witnessed unprecedented growth in the understanding of those processes that underwrite the development of organisms and the inheritance of characters. The empirical advances usher in challenges to the conceptual foundations of evolutionary theory. The extent to which the new biology challenges the Modern Synthesis has been the subject of lively debate. Many current commentators charge that the new biology of the 21st century calls for a revision, extension, or wholesale rejection of the Modern Synthesis Theory of evolution. Defenders of the Modern Synthesis maintain that the theory can accommodate the exciting new advances in biology. The original essays collected in this volume survey the various challenges to the Modern Synthesis arising from the new biology of the 21st century. The authors are evolutionary biologists, philosophers of science, and historians of biology from Europe and North America. Each of the essays discusses a particular challenge to the Modern Synthesis treatment of inheritance, development, or adaptation. Taken together, the essays cover a spectrum of views, from those that contend that the Modern Synthesis can rise to the challenges of the new biology, with little or no revision required, to those that call for the abandonment of the Modern Synthesis. The collection will be of interest to researchers and students in evolutionary biology, and the philosophy and history of the biological sciences.


Contributors iv
Challenging the Modern Synthesis 1
Denis M. Walsh and Philippe Huneman

Part 1: Adaptation and Selection
Chapter 1: Natural Selection, Adaptation, and the Recovery 38
of Development
David Depew
Chapter 2: Why would we call for a new evolutionary synthesis? 74
The variation issue and the explanatory alternatives
Philippe Huneman
Chapter 3: Genetic Assimilation and the Paradox of Blind Variation 129
Arnaud Pocheville and Etienne Danchin
Chapter 4: Evolutionary Theory Evolving 155
Patrick Bateson

Part 2: Development
Chapter 5: Evo-devo and the Structure(s) of Evolutionary Theory: 175
A Different Kind of Challenge
Alan C. Love
Chapter 6: Toward a Non-Idealist Evolutionary Synthesis 207
Stuart A. Newman
Chapter 7: Evolvability and its Evolvability 231
Alessandro Minelli
Chapter 8: Chance Caught on the Wing: Methodological Commitment 262
or Methodological Artifact?
Denis M. Walsh

Part 3: Inheritance
Chapter 9: Limited Extended Inheritance 285
Francesca Merlin
Chapter 10: Heredity and Evolutionary Theory 302
Tobias Uller and Heikki Helantera
Chapter 11: Serial homology as a Challenge to Evolutionary Theory: 343
The repeated parts of organisms from idealistic morphology
to evo-devo
Stephane Schmitt

About the author: 

Philippe Huneman is CNRS Research Professor and Professor of Philosophy at LInstitut dHistoire et de Philosophie des Science et des Technique, Universite Paris I SorbonneWalsh: Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Biology in the Department of Philosophy, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology and the Department of Ecology and evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto; Denis Walsh received a PhD in Biology at McGill University and a PhD in Philosophy at King's College London. He held the Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Biology at the University of Toronto until 2015.

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