Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 155–159 | Cite as

Introduction: A Primer on Adaptationism

  • Patrick ForberEmail author

Thirty years ago Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin published a article called “The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme.” This article initiated the debate over the fate of adaptationism. While the prevalence and exact nature of adaptationism were not immediately clear in 1979, the target of Gould and Lewontin’s critique was: the practice of accepting adaptation hypotheses too quickly based on little or no evidence. The critique generated a discussion of lasting influence, a discussion still relevant to both evolutionary biology and philosophy. Indeed, the reach of the Spandrels article is such that Rose and Lauder (1996, pp. 1–8) claim that one task of contemporary evolutionary biology is to articulate a viable “post-spandrels adaptationism.” This special issue commemorates both the seminal article and the literature it inspired. The contributions here provide extensions and elaborations of many threads woven into this...


Natural Selection Sufficient Explanation Current Utility Evolutionary Developmental Biology Explanatory Adaptationism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I owe a significant debt to Kim Sterelny for the opportunity to prepare this special issue, and for invaluable help with both the content and the editorial process. I would also like to thank everyone who expressed positive interest in the production of an issue commemorating the Spandrels article, especially (but certainly not limited to) the contributors herein.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

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