In L. N. de la Rosa & G. B. Müller (eds.), Evolutionary Developmental Biology - A Reference Guide. Cham: Springer (2021)

Authors
Marie I. Kaiser
Bielefeld University
Abstract
Evo-devo is a multidisciplinary field that investigates the interplay between evolutionary and developmental processes and brings together different kinds of explanatory strategies. This chapter examines the structure of paradigmatic explanations in evo-devo (e.g., the explanation of the origin of an evolutionary novelty) and raises philosophical questions about explanation in evo-devo. Much research in evo-devo is concerned with studying the developmental mechanisms that constrain and facilitate phenotypic evolution, which suggests that a distinctive feature of evo-devo is that it constructs mechanistic explanations. In this chapter, I discuss three major challenges for thinking about evo-devo as providing mechanistic explanations. First, an explanation of an evolutionary novelty consists of several mechanistic explanations, rather than being a single one. Second, developmental mechanisms are ontogenetically and phylogenetically dynamic and thus difficult to individuate. Third, an explanation of an evolutionary novelty also has a non-mechanistic, historical part. Finally, I discuss whether evo-devo’s emphasis on mechanistic explanation promotes explanatory integration or results in a reductionist view of evolution.
Keywords Mechanistic explanation  Historical explanation  Explanatory integration  Reductive explanation
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Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Explaining the Brain.Carl F. Craver - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
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