Advertisement

Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 359–391 | Cite as

The Tragedy of a priori Selectionism: Dennett and Gould on Adaptationism

  • Jeremy C. Ahouse
Article

Abstract

In his recent book on Darwinism, Daniel Dennett has offered up a species of a priori selectionism that he calls algorithmic. He used this view to challenge a number of positions advocated by Stephen J. Gould. I examine his algorithmic conception, review his unqualified enthusiasm for the a priori selectionist position, challenge Dennett's main metaphors (cranes vs. skyhooks and a design space), examine ways in which his position has lead him to misunderstand or misrepresent Gould (spandrels, exaptation, punctuated equilibrium, contingency and disparity), and discuss recent results in developmental biology that suggest that an a priori position does not fill the demands of an evolutionary biology. I conclude by insisting that evolutionary biology is many leveled, complicated, and is carried on an ever shifting and expanding empirical base that when disregarded results in caricature.

adaptation algorithm atavism contingency deep homology Dennett development disparity epicurean selectionism evolution exaptation Gould metaphors punctuated equilibrium selectionism spandrels 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Ahouse, J.J., Hagerman, J., Mittal, P., Gilbert, D.J., Copeland, N.G., Jenkins, N.A., and Simister, N.E.: 1993, 'Mouse MHC Class I-like Fc Receptor Encoded Outside the MHC', Journal of Immunology 151, 6076–6088.Google Scholar
  2. Amundson, R.: 1989, 'The Trials and Tribulations of Selectionist Explanations', in K. Hahlweg and C.A. Hooker (eds.), Issues in Evolutionary Epistemology, SUNY Press, NY, pp. 556–578.Google Scholar
  3. Augustine, S.: 1958, On Christian Doctrine, Transl. by Robertson, D.W. Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis.Google Scholar
  4. Beatty, J.: 1995, 'The Evolutionary Contingency Thesis', in G. Wolters and J. Lennox (eds.), Concepts, Theories, and Rationality in the Biological Sciences: The Second Pittsburgh-Konstanz Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, pp. 45–81.Google Scholar
  5. Borges, J.L.: 1962a, 'The Garden of Forking Paths', in A. Kerrigan (ed.) Ficciones, Grove Weidenfeld, New York, pp. 89–101.Google Scholar
  6. Borges, J.L.: 1962b, 'The Library of Babel', in A. Kerrigan (ed.), Ficciones, Grove Weidenfeld, New York, pp. 79–88.Google Scholar
  7. Brandon, R.N.: 1978, 'Adaptation and evolutionary theory', Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 9, 181–206.Google Scholar
  8. Brandon, R.N.: 1990, Adaptation and Environment, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.Google Scholar
  9. Brandon, R.N. and Mishler, B.D.: 1987, 'Individuality, pluralism, and the phylogenetic species concept', Biology and Philosophy 2, 397–414.Google Scholar
  10. Brandon, R.N. and Rausher, M.D.: 1996, 'Testing adaptationism: a comment on Orzack and Sober', American Naturalist 148, 189–201.Google Scholar
  11. Briggs, D.E.G., Erwin, D.H., and Collier, F.J.: 1994, The Fossils of the Burgess Shale, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington.Google Scholar
  12. Briggs, D.E.G. and Fortey, R.A.: 1989, 'The early radiation and relationships of the major arthropod groups', Science 246, 241–243.Google Scholar
  13. Burian, R.M.: 1983, 'Adaptation', in M. Grene (ed.) Dimensions of Darwinism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 287–314.Google Scholar
  14. Burmeister, W.P., Gastinel, L.N., Simister, N.E., Blum, M.L., and Bjorkman, P.J.: 1994a, 'Crystal structure at 2.2 É resolution of the MHC-related neonatal Fc receptor', Nature 372, 336–343.Google Scholar
  15. Burmeister, W.P., Huber, A.H., and Bjorkman, P.J.: 1994b, 'Crystal structure of the complex of rat neonatal Fc receptor with Fc', Nature 372, 379–383.Google Scholar
  16. Carroll, S.B.: 1995, 'Homeotic genes and the evolution of arthropods and chordates', Nature 376, 479–485.Google Scholar
  17. Carroll, S.B., Weatherbee, S.D., and Langeland, J.A.: 1995, 'Homeotic genes and the regulation and evolution of insect wing number', Nature 375, 58–61.Google Scholar
  18. Cormen, T.H., Leiserson, C.E., and Rivest, R.L.: 1990, Introduction to Algorithms, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  19. Daltry, J.C., Wuster, W., and Thorpe, R.S.: 1996, 'Diet and snake venom evolution', Nature 379, 537–540.Google Scholar
  20. Darwin, C.: 1866, On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life, John Murray, London.Google Scholar
  21. Darwin, C.: 1892, On the Various Contrivances by which Orchids are Fertilized by Insects, D. Appleton, New York.Google Scholar
  22. Dawkins, R.: 1981, 'In Defense of Selfish Genes', Philosophy 56, 556–573.Google Scholar
  23. Dawkins, R.: 1982, The extended phenotype: the gene as the unit of selection, Freeman, Oxford.Google Scholar
  24. Dawkins, R.: 1986, The blind watchmaker, Norton, New York.Google Scholar
  25. Dawkins, R.: 1989, The selfish gene, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  26. Dawkins, R.: 1995, River out of eden: a Darwinian view of life, Basic Books, New York.Google Scholar
  27. Dawkins, R.: 1996, 11 Oct., pers. comm. Google Scholar
  28. Day, S.: 1995, 28 October, 'Invasion of the shapechangers', New Scientist, 30–35.Google Scholar
  29. de Queiroz, K. and Gauthier, J.: 1990, 'Phylogeny as a Central Principle in Taxonomy: Phylogenetic Definitions of Taxon Names', Systematic Zoology 34, 307–322.Google Scholar
  30. Dennett, D.: 1987, The Intentional Stance, MIT, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  31. Dennett, D.: 1991, 'Real Patterns', The Journal of Philosophy 88, 27–51.Google Scholar
  32. Dennett, D.: 1997, 'Reply to Gregory Mulhauser's review of Darwin's Dangerous Idea', Philosophical Books forthcoming.Google Scholar
  33. Dennett, D.C.: 1995, Darwin's dangerous idea: evolution and the meanings of life, Simon & Schuster, New York.Google Scholar
  34. Dennett, D.C.: 1996, 'The Scope of Natural Selection: the author replies to “Dennett's Strange Idea”', Boston Review Magazine 21.Google Scholar
  35. Depew, D.J. and Weber, B.H.: 1995, Darwinism Evolving: Systems Dynamics and the Genealogy of Natural Selection, MIT Press, Cambridge, Masssachusetts.Google Scholar
  36. Dickinson, W.J. and Seger, J.: 1996, 'Letters: Eye Evolution', Science 272, 467–468.Google Scholar
  37. Doolittle, R.F.: 1994, 'Convergent evolution: the need to be explicit', TIBS 19, 15–18.Google Scholar
  38. Eldredge, N.: 1995, Reinventing Darwin: The Great Debate at the Hill Table of Evolutionary Theory, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York.Google Scholar
  39. Eldredge, N. and Gould, S.J.: 1972, 'Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism', in T.J.M. Schopf (ed.) Models in Paleobiology, Freeman, San Francisco, pp. 82–115.Google Scholar
  40. Fisher, D.: 1985, 'Evolutionary morphology: beyond the analogous, the anecdotal, and the ad hoc', Paleobiology 11, 120–138.Google Scholar
  41. Fitch, W.M.: 1970, 'Distinguishing homologous from analogous proteins', Systematic Zoology 19, 99–113.Google Scholar
  42. Fleagle, J.G.: 1988, Primate adaptation and evolution, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  43. Fontana, W., Wagner, G., and Buss, L.W.: 1994, 'Beyond Digital Naturalism', Artificial Life 1, 211–227.Google Scholar
  44. Gehring, W.J.: 1996, 'Letters: Eye Evolution response', Science 272, 468–469.Google Scholar
  45. Gottlieb, G.: 1992, Individual Development and Evolution: The Genesis of Novel Behavior, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  46. Gould, S.J.: 1977, Ontogeny and Phylogeny, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  47. Gould, S.J.: 1989, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, W.W. Norton & Co., New York.Google Scholar
  48. Gould, S.J.: 1991a, Bully for Brontosaurus, Norton, New York.Google Scholar
  49. Gould, S.J.: 1991b, 'The disparity of the Burgess Shale arthropod fauna and the limits of cladistic analysis: why we must strive to quantify morphospace', Paleobiology 17, 411– 423.Google Scholar
  50. Gould, S.J.: 1993a, 'Fulfilling the Spandrels of world and mind', in J. Selzer (ed.) Understanding Scientific Prose, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisc., pp. 310–336.Google Scholar
  51. Gould, S.J.: 1993b, 'How to analyze the Burgess Shale disparity – a reply to Ridley', Paleobiology 19, 522–523.Google Scholar
  52. Gould, S.J.: 1994a, 'Common Pathways of Illumination: Humans and squid may literally look at things the same way', Natural History 10–20.Google Scholar
  53. Gould, S.J.: 1994b, 'Tempo and mode in macroevolutionary reconstruction of Darwinism', PNAS 91, 6764–6771.Google Scholar
  54. Gould, S.J. and Eldredge, N.: 1977, 'Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered', Paleobiology 3, 115–151.Google Scholar
  55. Gould, S.J. and Eldredge, N.: 1993, 'Punctuated Equilibrium comes of age', Nature 366, 223–227.Google Scholar
  56. Gould, S.J. and Lewontin, R.C.: 1979, 'The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: a critique of the adaptationist programme', Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 205, 581–598.Google Scholar
  57. Gould, S.J. and Vrba, E.S.: 1982, 'Exaptation – a missing term in the science of form', Paleobiology 8, 4–15.Google Scholar
  58. Gray, R.: 1992, 'Death of the Gene: Developmental Systems Strike Back', in P. Griffiths (ed.) Trees of Life, Kluwer Academic, Netherlands, pp. 165–209.Google Scholar
  59. Hacking, I.: 1983, Representing and intervening: Introductory topics in the philosophy of natural science, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  60. Halder, G., Callaerts, P., and Gehring, W.J.: 1995, 'New perspectives on eye evolution', Current opinion in Genetics & Development 5, 602–609.Google Scholar
  61. Hall, B.K.: 1992, Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Chapman Hall, London.Google Scholar
  62. Hull, D.L.: 1985, 'Darwinism as a historical entity: a historiographic proposal', in D. Kohn (ed.) The Darwinian Heritage, Princeton Univeristy Press, Princeton, pp. 773–812.Google Scholar
  63. Jones, T.A., Zou, J.Y., Cowan, S.W., and Kjeldgaard, M.: 1991, 'Improved methods for building protein models in electron density maps and the location of errors in these models', Acta Cryst. A47, 110–119.Google Scholar
  64. Kandil, E., Noguchi, M., Ishibashi, T., and Kasahara, M.: 1995, 'Structural and Phylogenetic Analysis of the MHC Class I-Like Fc Receptor Gene', Journal of Immunology 154, 5907–5918.Google Scholar
  65. Keller, E.F. and Lloyd, E.A. Eds.: 1992, 'Keywords in Evolutionary Biology', Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  66. Kettlewell, B.: 1973, The evolution of melanism. The study of a recurring necessity; with special reference to industrial melanism in the Lepidoptera, Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  67. Kinoshita, N., Minshull, J., and Kirshner, M.W.: 1995, 'The Identification of Two Novel Ligands of the FGF Receptor by a Yeast Screening Method and Their Activity in XenopusDevelopment', Cell 83, 621–630.Google Scholar
  68. Kraulis, P.J.: 1991, 'MolScript: a program to produce both detailed and schematic plots of protein structures', Journal of Applied Crystallography 24, 946–950.Google Scholar
  69. Lange, M.: 1996, 'Life, “Artificial Life,” and Scientific Explanation', Philosophy of Science 63, 225–244.Google Scholar
  70. Lennox, J.G.: 1992, 'Teleology', in E.F. Keller and E.A. Lloyd (eds.), Keywords in Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 324–333.Google Scholar
  71. Lufkin, T., Mark, M., Hart, C.P., Dolle, P., Lemeur, M., and Chambon, P.: 1992, 'A Homeotic Transformation of the Occipital Bones of the skull by ectopic expression of a homeobox gene', Nature 359, 835–841.Google Scholar
  72. Mark, R.: 1996, 'Architecture and Evolution', American Scientist 84, 383–389.Google Scholar
  73. Maynard–Smith, J.: 1995, 30 November, 'Genes, Memes, & Minds', New York Review of Books, 46–48.Google Scholar
  74. Mayr, E.: 1961, 'Cause and Effect in Biology: Kinds of causes, predictability, and teleology are viewed by a practicing biologist', Science 134, 1501–1506.Google Scholar
  75. McShea, D.W.: 1993, 'Arguments, tests, and the Burgess Shale – a commentary on the debate', Paleobiology 19, 399–402.Google Scholar
  76. Midgley, M.: 1979, 'Gene Juggling', Philosophy 54, 439–458.Google Scholar
  77. Midgley, M.: 1983, 'Selfish Genes and Social Darwinism', Philosophy 58, 365–377.Google Scholar
  78. Mulhauser, G.: 1997, 'Review of Darwin's Dangerous Idea', Philosophical Books forthcoming.Google Scholar
  79. Murphy, E.A.: 1979, 'Quantitative Genetics: A Critique', Social Biology 26, 126–141.Google Scholar
  80. Nijhout, H.F.: 1990, 'Metaphors and the role of genes in development', Bioessays 12, 441–446.Google Scholar
  81. O'Hara, R.J.: 1992, 'Telling the tree: narrative representation and the study of evolutionary history', Biology and Philosophy 7, 135–160.Google Scholar
  82. Orr, H.A.: 1996a, 'Allen Orr Replies', Boston Review Magazine 21.Google Scholar
  83. Orr, H.A.: 1996b, 'Dennett's Dangerous Idea', Evolution 50, 467–472.Google Scholar
  84. Orr, H.A.: 1996c, 'Dennett's Strange Idea', Boston Review Magazine 21.Google Scholar
  85. Orzack, S.H. and Sober, E.: 1994, 'Optimality models and the test of adaptationism', American Naturalist 143, 361–380.Google Scholar
  86. Orzack, S.H. and Sober, E.: 1996, 'How to formulate and test adaptationism', American Naturalist 148, 202–210.Google Scholar
  87. Patterson, C.: 1987, 'Introduction', in C. Patterson (ed.) Molecules and morphology in evolution: conflict or compromise?, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp.Google Scholar
  88. Peirce, C.S.: 1932, 'Collected Papers', in Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 2.113.Google Scholar
  89. Pollock, R.A., Tadru, S., Ngo, L., and Bierberich, C.J.: 1995, 'Gain of function mutations for paralogous Hox genes: Implications for the evolution of Hox gene function', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 92, 4492–4496.Google Scholar
  90. Popper, K.: 1962, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, Basic Books, New York.Google Scholar
  91. Prothero, D.R.: 1992, 'Punctuated Equilibrium at Twenty: a Paleontological Perspective', Skeptic 1, 38–47.Google Scholar
  92. Queller, D.C.: 1995, 'The Spaniels of St. Marx and the Panglossian Paradox: a Critique of a Rhetorical Programme', Quaterly Review of Biology 70, 485–489.Google Scholar
  93. Quinn, J.C., West, J.D., and Hill, R.E.: 1996, 'Multiple functions for Pax6 in mouse eye and nasal development', Genes & Development 10, 435–446.Google Scholar
  94. Quiring, R., Walldorf, U., Kloter, U., and Gehring, W.J.: 1994, 'Homology of the Eyeless gene of Drosophila to the Small Eye Gene in Mice and Aniridia in Humans', Science 265, 785–789.Google Scholar
  95. Raff, R.A.: 1996, The Shape of Life: Genes, Development and the Ecvolution of Animal Form, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  96. Raup, D., and Sepkoski, J.J.: 1982, 'Mass Extinction in the Marine Fossil Record', Science 215, 1501–1503.Google Scholar
  97. Ray, T.S.: 1994, 'An Evolutionary Approach to Synthetic Biology: Zen and the Art of Creating Life', Artificial Life 1, 179–209.Google Scholar
  98. Rice, K.A.: 1996, 'Mutability and Diversity in the Biological Sciences: a Pagan Perception of Nature', Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 39, 491–499.Google Scholar
  99. Ridley, M.: 1990, 'Dreadful Beasts: a review of Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould', The London Review of Books, 11–12.Google Scholar
  100. Ridley, M.: 1993, 'Analysis of the Burgess Shale', Paleobiology 19, 519–521.Google Scholar
  101. Ridley, M.: 1995, 'Here, there, everywhere', Nature 375, 457–458.Google Scholar
  102. Rodd, R.: 1987, 'The Challenge of Biological Deteminism', Philosophy 62, 84–93.Google Scholar
  103. Rose, S.: 1995, 'The Rise of Neurogenetic Determinism', Nature 373, 380–382.Google Scholar
  104. Rosenberg, A.: 1985, 'William's Axiomatization of Evolutionary Theory', in The Structure of Biological Science, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 136–152.Google Scholar
  105. Roughgarden, J.: 1986, 'A Comparison of Food Limited and Space Limited Animal Communities', in J. Diamond and T. Case (eds.), Community Ecology, Harper and Row, New York, pp. 492–516.Google Scholar
  106. Salvini-Plawen, L., and Mayr, E.: 1977, 'On the evolution of photoreceptors and eyes', Evolutionary Biology 10, 207–263.Google Scholar
  107. Scott, J.A.: 1986, The Butterflies of North America: A Natural History and Field Guide, Stanford University Press, Stanford.Google Scholar
  108. Simister, N.E. and Ahouse, J.C.: 1996, 'The structure and evolution of FcRn', Research in Immunology 147, 333–337.Google Scholar
  109. Sober, E.: 1984, The nature of selection: evolutionary theory in philosophical focus, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  110. Sober, E. Ed. 1994a, 'Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology', MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  111. Sober, E.: 1994b, 'Why not solipsism?', in From a biological point of view: essays in evolutionary philosophy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 28–49.Google Scholar
  112. Sober, E. and Lewontin, R.: 1982, 'Artifact, cause, and genic selection', Philosophy of Science 47, 157–180.Google Scholar
  113. Thornhill, R. and Gangestad, S.W.: 1996, 'The evolution of Human Sexuality', TREE 11, 98–102.Google Scholar
  114. Waddington, C.H.: 1959, 'Evolutionary adaptation', in S. Tax (ed.), Evolution after Darwin: TheUniveristy of Chicago Centennial, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 381–402.Google Scholar
  115. Weigel, D. and Meyerowitz, E.M.: 1994, 'The ABCs of Floral Homeotic Genes', Cell 78, 203–209.Google Scholar
  116. Wiley, E.O., Siegel-Causey, D., Brooks, D.R., and Funk, V.A.: 1991, The Compleat Cladist: A Primer of Phylogenetic Procedures, University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, Lawrence, Kansas.Google Scholar
  117. Williams, G.C.: 1966, Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of some Current Evolutionary Thought, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  118. Williams, M.B.: 1970, 'Deducing the Consequences of Evolution', Journal of Theoretical Biology 29, 343–385.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy C. Ahouse
    • 1
  1. 1.Howard Hughes Medical InstituteUniversity of Wisconsin, R.M. Bock LaboratoriesMadisonU.S.A

Personalised recommendations