Biology & Philosophy

, 24:161 | Cite as

Seven types of adaptationism

Article

Abstract

Godfrey-Smith (2001) has distinguished three types of adaptationism. This article builds on his analysis, and revises it in places, by distinguishing seven varieties of adaptationism. This taxonomy allows us to clarify what is at stake in debates over adaptationism, and it also helps to cement the importance of Gould and Lewontin’s ‘Spandrels’ essay. Some adaptationists have suggested that their essay does not offer any coherent alternative to the adaptationist programme: it consists only in an exhortation to test adaptationist hypotheses more thoroughly than was usual in the 1970s. Here it is argued that the ‘Spandrels’ paper points towards a genuinely non-adaptationist methodology implicit in much evolutionary developmental biology. This conclusion helps to expose the links between older debates over adaptationism and more recent questions about the property of evolvability.

Keywords

Adaptation Adaptationism Evolutionary developmental biology Evolvability Godfrey-Smith S. J. Gould R. C. Lewontin Spandrels 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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