Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Optimal Designs

  • Holly ElmoreEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2170-1

Products and Byproducts of Natural Selection

What is the proper way to interpret the appearance of design in nature? Before 1859 and the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, the answer seemed obvious – design means a designer. In Natural Theology, theologian William Paley famously analogized the appearance of design in the living world to the appearance of design in a man-made object, a watch:

… [S]uppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place … There must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use…. Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Karin Machluf
    • 1
  1. 1.Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA