, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 1027-1040
Date: 07 Mar 2006

John Maynard Smith and the natural philosophy of␣adaptation

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Abstract

One of the most remarkable aspects of John Maynard Smith’s work was the fact that he devoted time both to doing science and to reflecting philosophically upon its methods and concepts. In this paper I offer a philosophical analysis of Maynard Smith’s approach to modelling phenotypic evolution in relation to three main themes. The first concerns the type of scientific understanding that ESS and optimality models give us. The second concerns the causal–historical aspect of stability analyses of adaptation. The third concerns the concept of evolutionary stability itself. Taken together, these three themes comprise what I call the natural philosophy of adaptation.