Making Sense of Evolution: The Conceptual Foundations of Evolutionary Biology
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Making Sense of Evolution explores contemporary evolutionary biology, focusing on the elements of theories—selection, adaptation, and species—that are complex and open to multiple possible interpretations, many of which are incompatible with one another and with other accepted practices in the discipline. Particular experimental methods, for example, may demand one understanding of “selection,” while the application of the same concept to another area of evolutionary biology could necessitate a very different definition.
Spotlighting these conceptual difficulties and presenting alternate theoretical interpretations that alleviate this incompatibility, Massimo Pigliucci and Jonathan Kaplan intertwine scientific and philosophical analysis to produce a coherent picture of evolutionary biology. Innovative and controversial, Making Sense of Evolution encourages further development of the Modern Synthesis and outlines what might be necessary for the continued refinement of this evolving field.
“force” of selection (see chapter 1) on each character when correlations with other characters are statistically controlled for 2. Statistically: as the set of partial regression coefﬁcients of relative ﬁtness on each character, holding the other characters constant 3. Geometrically: as the direction of the steepest uphill slope from the population mean on the selection surface The geometric interpretation of B, as a direction on a ﬁtness surface, itself admits to three different interpretations,
referred, is the identiﬁcation of additional, as yet unmeasured, factors affecting the system under study. Path analysis includes a series of tools to estimate not only the overall ﬁt of the model to the data (as does multiple regression), but also the amount of variation in each factor that remains unexplained. The latter information can point the investigator toward areas of the causal model that may require further thought, thereby aiding in the search for additional variables that need to be
do not “self-replicate”; rather, their replication requires the coordinated actions of a cell, and the replication of a cell requires, at the very least, a compete cell situated in and interacting with the right kind of environment. There is, therefore, no way to distinguish in general between the things that are replicated, the things that do the replicating, and the things that interact. example, any differences in the ﬁtness of groups within a population could be discovered by dividing the
resources (such as genes and other sources of heritable variation) as well as traits, outline the difﬁculties facing scientists who wish to pursue research guided by this kind of functional talk, and distinguish this kind of functional talk F U N C T I O N S A N D F O R - N E S S I N B I O L O G Y / 133 from the too-often too-sloppy kinds of pseudo-functional ascriptions that get bandied around in the biological (and especially biomedical) literature. CHARACTER TRAITS AND ETIOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS
particular traits could take place. As we noted in chapter 5, studying the ways in which traits reliably coevolve and the different frequencies with which particular relationships between traits change can provide a useful entry into the study of one of the many meanings of “constraints.” And it seems clear that if we wish to understand why traits have the functional associations they do, and how these were acquired in evolutionary time, we must recognize this kind of ﬂuidity in the relationship