From stability to norm transformation: lessons about resilience, for development, from ecology

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (4):571-584 (2017)
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Phenomenologists recognize the insights to be gained from looking at cognitive development. But our understanding of development, in turn, can be illuminated by ideas from ecology. Developmental studies in psychology and biology share with ecosystem ecology a concern with stability—with how things stay the same despite changes in the surrounding conditions, and how processes of change lead reliably to similar outcomes despite environmental variability. Recently, both ecologists and psychologists have reconsidered their earlier assumptions about the sources of stability, and explored new conceptions of resilience: a system’s ability to “bounce back” from a disturbance, to absorb change without harm, or to overcome obstacles to achieve good adaptive functioning. Developmental biologists, meanwhile, have explored related issues through conceptions of developmental plasticity and canalization. Distinct theoretical frameworks for resilience have emerged in these different fields, yet the phenomena that they treat are closely intertwined. Ecological work on resilience focuses on relationships between resilience, chaotic change, and adaptive function across multiple scales of nested systems, and implications for intervention or management. With some assistance from developmental biology, this body of work offers rich theoretical resources and important lessons for related thinking about cognitive development.



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Gillian Barker
University of Western Ontario

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Childhood and society.E. H. Erikson - 1955 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 145:87-88.
Biological levers and extended adaptationism.Gillian Barker - 2008 - Biology and Philosophy 23 (1):1-25.
Weighing Species.Gregory M. Mikkelson - 2011 - Environmental Ethics 33 (2):185-196.

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