Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 33–65 | Cite as

Natural selection and self-organization

Dynamical models as clues to a new evolutionary synthesis
  • Bruce H. Weber
  • David J. Depew
Article

Abstract

The Darwinian concept of natural selection was conceived within a set of Newtonian background assumptions about systems dynamics. Mendelian genetics at first did not sit well with the gradualist assumptions of the Darwinian theory. Eventually, however, Mendelism and Darwinism were fused by reformulating natural selection in statistical terms. This reflected a shift to a more probabilistic set of background assumptions based upon Boltzmannian systems dynamics. Recent developments in molecular genetics and paleontology have put pressure on Darwinism once again. Current work on self-organizing systems may provide a stimulus not only for increased problem solving within the Darwinian tradition, especially with respect to origins of life, developmental genetics, phylogenetic pattern, and energy-flow ecology, but for deeper understanding of the very phenomenon of natural selection itself. Since self-organizational phenomena depend deeply on stochastic processes, self-organizational systems dynamics advance the probability revolution. In our view, natural selection is an emergent phenomenon of physical and chemical selection. These developments suggest that natural selection may be grounded in physical law more deeply than is allowed by advocates of the autonomy of biology, while still making it possible to deny, with autonomists, that evolutionary explanations can be modeled in terms of a deductive relationship between laws and cases. We explore the relationship between, chance, self-organization, and selection as sources of order in biological systems in order to make these points.

Key words

Background assumptions Darwinism evolution Newtonian dynamics nonequilibrium thermodynamics nonlinear dynamics probability revolution selection self-organization systems dynamics 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bechtel, W. and Richardson, R.C.: 1993, Discovering Complexity: Decomposition and Localizition as Strategies in Scientific Research, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.Google Scholar
  2. Bergé, P., Pomeau, Y., and Vidal, C.: 1984, Order within Chaos, Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Bowler, P.J.: 1988, The Non-Darwinian Revolution, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  4. Brandon, R.N.: 1990, Adaptation and Environment, Princeton University Press, Princeton.Google Scholar
  5. Brooks, D.R. and Wiley, E.O.: 1986, revised 1988, Evolution as Entropy: Toward a Unified Theory of Biology, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  6. Brooks, D.R., Collier, J., Maurer, B.A., Smith, J.D.H. and Wiley, E.O.: 1989, ‘Entropy and information in evolving biological systems’, Biology and Philosophy 4, 407–432.Google Scholar
  7. Burian, R.: 1988, ‘Challenges to the evolutionary synthesis’, Evolutionary Biology 23, 247–69.Google Scholar
  8. Burian, R. and Richardson, R.C.: 1991, ‘Form and order in evolutionary biology: Stuart Kauffman's transformation of theoretical biology’, PSA 1990 2, 267–87.Google Scholar
  9. Burkhardt, F. and Smith S. (eds.): 1987, The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, Vol. 3, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  10. Campbell, J.H. and Perkins, P.: 1988, ‘Transgenerational effects of drug and hormonal treatments in mammals: a review of observations and ideas’, Progress in Brain Research 73, 535–553.Google Scholar
  11. Charlesworth, B.R., Lande, R. and Slatkin, M.: 1982, ‘A neo-Darwinian commentary on macroevolution’, Evolution 36, 474–98.Google Scholar
  12. Darwin, C.R.: 1859, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, John Murray, London.Google Scholar
  13. Dawkins, R.: 1976, revised 1989, The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  14. Degen, H., Holden, A.V., and Olsen, L.F.: 1987, Chaos in Biological Systems, Plenum, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Depew, D.J.: 1986, ‘Nonequilibrium thermodynamics and evolution: a philosophical perspective’, Philosophica 37, 27–58.Google Scholar
  16. Depew, D.J. and Weber, B.H.: 1988, ‘Consequences of nonequilibrium thermodynamics for the Darwinian tradition’, in Weber, B.H., Depew, D.J. and Smith, J.D. (eds.), Entropy, Information and Evolution: New Perspectives on Physical and Biological Evolution, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 317–354.Google Scholar
  17. Depew, D.J. and Weber, B.H.: 1989, ‘The evolution of the Darwinian research tradition’, Systems Research 6, 255–263.Google Scholar
  18. Depew, D.J. and Weber, B.H.: 1995, Darwinism Evolving: Systems Dynamics and the Geneology of Natural Selection, Bradford/The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  19. Dyke, C.: 1988, The Evolutionary Dynamics of Complex Systems: A Study in Biosocial Complexity, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford.Google Scholar
  20. Dyke, C. and Depew, D.: 1988, ‘Well, maybe not the last resort, but’, Revista di Biologia — Biology Forum 81, 115–129.Google Scholar
  21. Eldredge, N.: 1985, Unfinished Synthesis: Biological Hierarchies and Modern Evolutionary Thought, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  22. Eldredge, N. and Cracraft, J.: 1980, Phylogenetic Patterns and the Evolutionary Process: Method and Theory in Comparative Biology, Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  23. Eldredge, N. and Grene, M.: 1992, Interactions: The Biological Context of Social Systems, Columbia University, New York.Google Scholar
  24. Fisher, R.A.: 1930, The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  25. Gayon, J.: 1992, Darwin et l'après-Darwin: Une Histoire de l'hypothèse de selection naturelle, Editions Kine, Paris.Google Scholar
  26. Gesteland, R.F. and Atkins, J.F.: 1993, The RNA World: The Nature of Modern RNA Suggests a Prebiotic RNA World, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor.Google Scholar
  27. Gigerenzer, G., Swijtink, Z., Porter, T., Daston, L., Beatty, J., and Krüger, L.: 1989, The Empire of Chance, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  28. Goodwin, B.C.: 1984, ‘A relational or field theory of reproduction and its evolutionary consequences’, in Ho, M.-W. and Saunders, P. (eds.), Beyond Neo-Darwinism, Academic Press, New York, pp. 219–241.Google Scholar
  29. Goodwin, B.C.: 1989, ‘Evolution and the generative order’, in Goodwin B. and Saunders, P. (eds.), Theoretical Biology: Epigenetic and Evolutionary Order from Complex Systems, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  30. Gould, S.J.: 1982a, ‘The meaning of punctuated equilibrium and its role in validating a hierarchical approach to macroevolution’, in Milkman, R. (ed.), Perspective on Evolution, Sinauer, Sunderland, MA.Google Scholar
  31. Gould, S.J.: 1982b, ‘Darwinism and the expansion of evolutionary theory’, Science 216, 380–387.Google Scholar
  32. Gould, S.J.: 1983, ‘The hardening of the modern synthesis’, in Grene, M. (ed.), Dimensions of Darwinism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 71–93.Google Scholar
  33. Gould, S.J.: 1988, ‘On replacing the idea of progress with an operational notion of directionality’, in Nitecki, M.H. (ed.), Evolutionary Progress, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 319–338.Google Scholar
  34. Gould, S.J.: 1989, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, Norton, New York.Google Scholar
  35. Gould, S.J. and Eldredge, N.: 1977, ‘Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered’, Paleobiology 3, 115–151.Google Scholar
  36. Gould, S.J. and Eldredge, N.: 1993, ‘Punctuated equilibrium comes of age’, Nature 366, 223–227.Google Scholar
  37. Gould, S.J., Gilinsky, N.L. and German, R.Z.: 1987, ‘Asymmetry of lineages and the direction of evolutionary time’, Science 236, 1437–1441.Google Scholar
  38. Grene, M.: 1990, ‘Is evolution at a crossroads?’, Evolutionary Biology 24, 51–80.Google Scholar
  39. Hacking, I.: 1975, The Emergence of Probability: A Philosophical Study of Early Ideas about Probability and Statistical Inference, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  40. Hacking, I.: 1990, The Taming of Chance, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  41. Hariri, A., Weber, B. and Olmsted III, J.: 1990, ‘On the validity of Shannon-information calculations for molecular biological sequences’, Journal of Theoretical Biology 147, 235–254.Google Scholar
  42. Hodge, M.J.S.: 1985, ‘Darwin as a lifelong generation theorist’, in Kohn, D. (ed.), The Darwinian Heritage, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, pp. 207–244.Google Scholar
  43. Hodge, M.J.S.: 1987, ‘Natural selection as a causal, empirical and probablistic theory’, in Krüger, L., Gigerenzer, G. and Morgan, M.S. (eds.), The Probabilistic Revolution, vol. 2, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp.233–270.Google Scholar
  44. Hodge, M.J.S.: 1989a, ‘Generation and the origin of the species, 1837–1839: A historiographical suggestion’, British Journal for the History of Science 22, 267–281.Google Scholar
  45. Hodge, M.J.S.: 1989b, ‘Darwin's theory and Darwin's argument’, in Ruse, M. (ed.), What the Philosophy of Biology Is, Kluwer, Dordrecht, Holland.Google Scholar
  46. Hull, D. L.: 1976, ‘Are species really individuals?’, Systematic Zoology 25, 174–191.Google Scholar
  47. Hull, D.L.: 1978, ‘A matter of individuality’, Philosophy of Science 454, 335–360.Google Scholar
  48. Hull, D.L.: 1980, ‘Individuality and selection’ Annual Reviews of Ecology and Systematics 11, 311–332.Google Scholar
  49. Hull, D.L.: 1981, ‘The units of evolution: A metaphysical essay’, in Jensen, U.L. and Harrè, R. (eds.), The Philosophy of Evolution, Harvester Press, Brighton.Google Scholar
  50. Hull, D.L.: 1985, ‘Darwinism as an historical entity: A historiographic proposal’, in Kohn, D. (ed.), The Darwinian Heritage, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, pp.773–812.Google Scholar
  51. Hull, D.L.: 1988a, Science as a Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  52. Hull, D.L.: 1988b, ‘A mechanism and its metaphysics: An evolutionary account of the social and conceptual development of science’, Biology and Philosophy 3, 123–155.Google Scholar
  53. Johnson, L.: 1981, ‘The thermodynamics origin of ecosystems’, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 38, 571–590.Google Scholar
  54. Johnson, L.: 1988, ‘Thermodynamic origin of ecosystems’, in Weber, B.H., Depew, D.J. and Smith, J.D. (eds.), Entropy, Information, and Evolution: New Perspectives on Physical and Biological Evolution, Bradford/The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 75–105.Google Scholar
  55. Johnson, L.: 1992, ‘An ecological approach to biosystem thermodynamics’, Biology and Philosophy 7, 35–60.Google Scholar
  56. Jukes, T.H.: 1987, ‘Transitions, transversions and the molecular evolutionary clock’, Journal of Molecular Evolution 26, 87–98.Google Scholar
  57. Kauffman, Stuart A.: 1985, ‘Self-organization, selective adapatation, and its limits: a new pattern of inference in evolution and development’, in Depew, D.J. and Weber, B.H. (eds.), Evolution at a Crossroads: the New Biology and the New Philosophy of Science, Bradford/The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 169–207.Google Scholar
  58. Kauffman, S.A.: 1991, ‘Antichaos and adaptation’, Scientific American 265,78–84.Google Scholar
  59. Kauffman, S.A.: 1993, Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford.Google Scholar
  60. Kellert, S.H.: 1993, In the Wake of Chaos: Unpredictable Order in Dynamical Systems, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  61. Kellogg, V.L.: 1907, Darwinism Today, Henry Holt, New York.Google Scholar
  62. Kimura, M.: 1968, ‘Evolutionary rate at the molecular level’, Nature 217, 624–626.Google Scholar
  63. Kimura, M.: 1983, The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  64. Kimura, M.: 1987, ‘Molecular evolutionary clock and the neutral theory.’, Journal of Molecular Evolution 26, 24–33.Google Scholar
  65. Krüger, L., Daston, L., and Heidelberger, M.: 1987, The Probabilistic Revolution, 2 vols., MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  66. Lakatos, I.: 1970, ‘Falsification and the methodology of scientific research programmes’, in Lakatos, I. and Musgrave, A. (eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  67. Lotka, A.J.: 1924, Elements of Physical Biology, Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  68. Lloyd, E.A.: 1988, The Structure and Confirmation of Evolutionary Theory, Greenwood Press, Westport.Google Scholar
  69. Lewontin, R.C.: 1970, ‘The units of selection’, Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 1, 1–18.Google Scholar
  70. Lotka, A.J.: 1992, ‘Contribution to the energetics of evolution’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 8,148–154.Google Scholar
  71. Lovelock, J.E.: 1979, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  72. Lovelock, J.E.: 1988, The Ages of Gaia, Norton, New York.Google Scholar
  73. Maynard, S.J., Burian, R., Kauffman, S., Alberch, P., Campbell, J., Goodwin, B., Lande, R., Raup, R. and Wolper, L.: 1985, ‘Developmental constraints and evolution: a perspective from the Mountain Lake conference on development and evolution’, Quarterly Reviews of Biology 60, 265–87.Google Scholar
  74. Mayr, E.: 1985, ‘How biology differs from the physical sciences’, in Depew, D.J. and Weber, B.H. (eds.), Evolution at a Crossroads: The New Biology and the New Philosophy of Science, Bradford/The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 43–63.Google Scholar
  75. Morowitz, H.J.: 1992, Beginnings of Cellular Life: Metabolism Recapitulates Biogenesis, Yale University Press, New Haven.Google Scholar
  76. Nicolis, G. and Prigogine, I.: 1989, Exploring Complexity, Freeman, New York.Google Scholar
  77. Odum, H.T.: 1988, ‘Self-organization, transformity and information’, Science 242, 1132–1139.Google Scholar
  78. Prigogine, I. and Stengers, I.: 1984, Order Out of Chaos, Bantam, New York.Google Scholar
  79. Provine, W.B.: 1971, The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  80. Provine, W.B.: 1986, Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  81. Rasband, S.N.: 1990, Chaotic Dynamics of Nonlinear Systems, Wiley-Interscience, New York.Google Scholar
  82. Richardson, R.C. and Burian, R.M.: 1992, ‘A defense of the propensity interpretation of fitness’, PSA 1992 1, 349–362.Google Scholar
  83. Rosenberg, A.: 1985, The Structure of Biological Science, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  84. Salthe, S.N.: 1985, Evolving Hierarchical Systems, Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  85. Salthe, S.N.: 1991, ‘Formal considerations on the origin of life’, Uroboros 1, 45–65.Google Scholar
  86. Salthe, S.N.: 1992, ‘Hierarchical non-equilibrium self-organization as the new post-cybernetic perspective’, in Van de Vijver, G. (ed.), New Perspectives on Cybernetics, Kluwer, Dordrecht, Holland, pp. 49–58.Google Scholar
  87. Salthe, S.N.: 1993, Development and Evolution: Complexity and Change in Biology, Bradford/The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  88. Schneider, E.D.: 1988, ‘Thermodynamics, ecological succession, and natural selection’, in Weber, B.H., Depew, D.J. and Smith, J.D. (eds.), Entropy, Information, and Evolution: New Perspectives on Physical and Biological Evolution, Bradford/The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 106–138.Google Scholar
  89. Schrödinger, E.: 1944, What Is Life?, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  90. Simon, H.A.: 1962, ‘The architecture of complexity’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 106, 467–482.Google Scholar
  91. Sober, E.: 1984, The Nature of Selection: Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus, Bradford/The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  92. Sober, E. and Lewontin, R.: 1982, ‘Artifact, cause, and genic selection’, Philosophy of Science 47, 157–180.Google Scholar
  93. Stanley, S.: 1975, ‘A theory of evolution above the species level’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 72, 646–650.Google Scholar
  94. Stanley, S.: 1979, Macroevolution: Pattern and Process, Freeman, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  95. Stebbins, G.L., and Ayala, F.J.: 1981, ‘Is a new evolutionary synthesis necessary?’, Science 213, 967–971.Google Scholar
  96. Swenson, R.: 1989, ‘Emergent attractors and the law of maximim entropy production: foundations to a theory of general evolution’, Systems Research 6, 187–197.Google Scholar
  97. Swenson, R.: 1991, ‘End-directed physics and evolutionary ordering: Obviating the problem of the population of one’, in Geyer, F. (ed.), The Cybernetics of Complex Systems: Self-Organization, Evolution, and Social Change, Intersystems, Salinas, CA, pp. 41–60.Google Scholar
  98. Swenson, R.: 1995, Spontaneous Order, Evolution and Natural Law: An Introduction to the Physical Basis for an Ecological Psychology, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ.Google Scholar
  99. Swenson, R. and Turvey, M.T.: 1991, ‘Thermodynamic reasons for perception-action cycles’, Ecological Psychology 3, 317–348.Google Scholar
  100. Ulanowicz, Robert E., 1986. Growth and Development: Ecosystems Phenomenology. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  101. Ulanowicz, R.E.: 1994, ‘The propensities of evolving systems’, in Kahlil, E.L. and Boulding, K.E. (eds.), Social and Natural Complexity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  102. Vrba, E. and Eldredge, B.: 1984, ‘Individuals, hierarchies and processes: towards a more complete evolutionary theory’, Paleobiology 10, 146–171.Google Scholar
  103. Vrba, E. and Gould, S.J.: 1986, ‘The hierarchical expansion of sorting and selection: sorting and selection cannot be equated’, Paleobiology 12, 217–228.Google Scholar
  104. Weber, B.H., Depew, D.J., Dyke, C., Salthe, S.N., Schneider, E.D., Ulanowicz, R.E. and Wicken, J.S.: 1989, ‘Evolution in thermodynamic perspective: an ecological approach’, Biology and Philosophy 4, 373–405.Google Scholar
  105. Weber, B.H.: 1991, ‘Complex systems dynamics and the evolution of biological hierarchies’, in Geyer, F. (ed.), The Cybernetics of Complex Systems: Self-Organization, Evolution, and Social Change, Intersystems, Salinas, CA, pp. 31–40.Google Scholar
  106. Wicken, J.S.: 1986, ‘Entropy and evolution: ground rules for discourse’, Systematic Zoology 35, 51–73.Google Scholar
  107. Wicken, J.S.: 1987, Evolution, Thermodynamics and Information: Extending the Darwinian Program, Oxford University Press. New York and Oxford.Google Scholar
  108. Williams, G.C.: 1966, Adaptation and Natural Selection, Princeton University Press, Princeton.Google Scholar
  109. Williams, G.C.: 1992, Natural Selection: Domains, Levels, and Challenges, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  110. Wills, C.: 1989, The Wisdom of the Genes: New Pathways in Evolution, Basic Books, New York.Google Scholar
  111. Wimsatt, W.C.: 1980, ‘Reductionist research strategies and their biases in the units of selection controversy’, in Nickles, T. (ed.), Scientific Discovery-Vol. 2: Case Studies, D. Reidel, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, pp. 213–259.Google Scholar
  112. Wimsatt, W.C.: 1981, ‘The units of selection and the structure of the multilevel genome’, in Asquith, P. and Giere, R. (eds.), PSA 1980, Philosophy of Science Association, East Lansing, MI, pp. 2:122–183.Google Scholar
  113. Wimsatt, W.C.: 1986, ‘Developmental constraints, generative entrenchment and the innate-acquired distinction’, in Betchel, W. (ed.), Integrating Scientific Disciplines, Martinus Nijhoff, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, pp. 185–208.Google Scholar
  114. Zuckerkandel, E.: 1987, ‘On the molecular evolutionary clock’, Journal of Molecular Evolution 26, 34–46.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce H. Weber
    • 1
  • David J. Depew
    • 1
  1. 1.California State UniversityFullerton, FullertonU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations