Conceptual Change in Biology

Volume 307 of the series Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science pp 459-482


Evo-devo as a Trading Zone

  • Rasmus Grønfeldt WintherAffiliated withPhilosophy Department, University of CaliforniaBiocomplexity, Niels Bohr Institute, University of CopenhagenCenter for the Philosophy of Nature and Science Studies, University of Copenhagen Email author 

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Evo-Devo exhibits a plurality of scientific “cultures” of practice and theory. When do these cultures act—individually or collectively—in ways that actually move research forward, empirically, theoretically, and ethically? When do they become imperialistic, in the sense of excluding and subordinating other cultures? This chapter identifies six cultures—three styles (mathematical modeling, mechanism, and history) and three paradigms (adaptationism, structuralism, and cladism). The key assumptions standing behind, under, and within each of these cultures are explored. Characterizing the internal structure of each is necessary for understanding how they collaborate or compete, and how they are fragmented or integrated, in the rich interdisciplinary trading zone (Galison 1997) of Evo-Devo. Evo-Devo is an important example of how science can progress through a radical plurality of perspectives and cultures.