Prum’s Aesthetic Theory of Evolution: Beauty Happens and it can Change a Great Many Things
A recent book by Yale ornithologist Richard Prum (2017) is an excellent example of the Victorian era-style “popular” expositions of innovative ideas in the form of a book-long argument, which are easily understandable for an educated person and of great interest for an expert. In his quest to explain the myriad of intricate and seemingly evolutionarily useless ornaments and other signalling structures and patterns found in the animal kingdom, the author touches on several profound conceptual issues in evolutionary theory, theoretical biology, and the methodology of science itself. Even though this book’s argument is not explicitly framed in the light of a semiotic paradigm, major approaches and conclusions run parallel to it. After reading this book, the central role of organismic choice and the non-exclusivity of extrinsic natural selection in shaping evolutionary change will appear much more plausible for most readers. Here, I will concentrate on several key points discussed in the...
- Eldredge, N. (1995). Reinventing Darwin: The great evolutionary debate. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.Google Scholar
- Gould, S. J. (1977). Eternal metaphors of palaeontology. Developments in Palaeontology and Stratigraphy (pp. 1–26). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
- Gould, S. J. (2002). The structure of evolutionary theory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Hoffmeyer, J., & Emmeche, C. (1991). Code-duality and the semiotics of nature. In M. Anderson & F. Merrell (Eds.), On semiotic modeling (pp. 117–166). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.Google Scholar
- Kovaka, K. (2016). Underdetermination and evidence in the developmental plasticity debate. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axx038.
- Longo, G., Montévil, M., Kauffman, S.,( 2012). No entailing laws, but enablement in the evolution of the biosphere, Proceedings of the fourteenth international conference on Genetic and evolutionary computation conference companion. ACM, pp. 1379–1392.Google Scholar
- Martinelli, D. (2001). Methodologies and problems in zoomusicology. Sign Systems Studies, 29(1), 341–352.Google Scholar
- Rice, S. H. (2004). Evolutionary theory: Mathematical and conceptual foundations. Sunderland: Sinauer Associates.Google Scholar