Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 583–593 | Cite as

Convergence, contingency & morphospace

G. R. McGhee: Convergent evolution: limited forms most beautiful. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2011
Book Review

Abstract

George McGhee’s book “Convergent Evolution: limited forms most beautiful” provides an extensive survey of biological convergence. This paper has two main aims. First, it examines the theoretical claims McGhee makes about convergent evolution—specifically criticizing his use of a total morphospace to understand contingency and his assumption that functional constraints are non-contingent. Second, it sketches a group of important conceptual challenges facing researchers interested in convergence.

Keywords

Convergence Contingency Morphospace Theoretical morphology 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Brett Calcott and Daniel Nolan for helpful comments.

References

  1. Brigandt I, Griffiths PE (2007) The importance of homology for biology and philosophy. Biol Philos 22(5):633–641CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Conway Morris S (2003) Life’s solution: inevitable humans in a lonely universe. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Currie A (forthcoming) Covergence as evidence. Br J Philos SciGoogle Scholar
  4. Gould SJ (1989) Wonderful life: the Burgess Shale and the nature of history. W.W. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Griffiths PE (1994) Cladistic classification and functional explanation. Philos Sci 61(2):206–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Griffiths P (2007) Evo-Devo meets the mind: towards a developmental evolutionary psychology. In: Brandon R, Sansom R (eds) Integrating evolution and development. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. Hall BK (2007) Homoplasy and homology: dichotomy or continuum? J Hum Evol 52(5):473–479CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Maclaurin J (2003) The good, the bad and the impossible: a critical notice of ‘theoretical morphology: the concept and its applications’ by George McGhee. Biol Philos 18:463–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. McGhee GR (1999) Theoretical morphology: the concept and its applications. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. McGhee GR (2007) Modeling the spectrum of existent, nonexistent, and impossible biological form: a research program. In: Laubichler MD, Muller GB (eds) Modeling in biology. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  11. McGhee GR (2011) Convergent evolution: limited forms most beautiful. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  12. Powell R (2007) Is convergence more than an analogy? Homoplasy and its implications for macroevolutionary predictability. Biol Philos 22(4):565–578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Raup DM (1966) Geometric analysis of shell coiling: general problems. J Paleontol 40(5):1178–1190Google Scholar
  14. Rosenberg A (2000) Darwinism in philosophy, social science, and policy. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Sansom R (2003) Constraining the adaptationism debate. Biol Philos 18(4):493–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Seibold I, Helbig AJ (1995) Evolutionary history of new and old world vultures inferred from nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 350(1332):163–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sterelny K (2005) Another view of life. Stud Hist Philos Sci Part C 36(3):585–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sumpter DJT (2006) The principles of collective animal behaviour. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 361(1465):5–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Turner DD (2011) Paleontology: a philosophical introduction. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  20. Wink M (1995) Phylogeny of old and new world vultures (Aves: Accipitridae and Cathartidae) inferred from nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. Z Naturforsch C 50(11–12):868–882Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.c/o RSSS Philosophy DepartmentCoombs (bldg 9) Australia National UniversityCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations