Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 1027–1040

John Maynard Smith and the natural philosophy of␣adaptation



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.


Adaptation ESS Evolutionary game theory Evolutionary stability Optimality Phenotypic evolution 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de Humanidades y Educación, Escuela de FilosofíaUniversidad Central de VenezuelaCaracasVenezuela

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