Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 199–214 | Cite as

Adaptationism and the adaptive landscape

  • Jon F. Wilkins
  • Peter Godfrey-SmithEmail author


Debates over adaptationism can be clarified and partially resolved by careful consideration of the ‘grain’ at which evolutionary processes are described. The framework of ‘adaptive landscapes’ can be used to illustrate and facilitate this investigation. We argue that natural selection may have special status at an intermediate grain of analysis of evolutionary processes. The cases of sickle-cell disease and genomic imprinting are used as case studies.


Natural selection Adaptationism Adaptive landscape Genetics Optimality Imprinting Game theory 



We are grateful to Patrick Forber for helpful comments on an earlier draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Santa Fe InstituteSanta FeUSA
  2. 2.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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