A conceptual taxonomy of adaptation in evolutionary biology

Abstract

The concept of adaptation is employed in many fields such as biology, psychology, cognitive sciences, robotics, social sciences, even literacy and art,1 and its meaning varies quite evidently according to the particular research context in which it is applied. We expect to find a particularly rich catalogue of meanings within evolutionary biology, where adaptation has held a particularly central role since Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859) throughout important epistemological shifts and scientific findings that enriched and diversified the concept. Accordingly, a conceptual taxonomy of adaptation in evolutionary biology may help to disambiguate it. Interdisciplinary researches focused on adaptation would benefit from such a result. In the present work we recognize and define seven different meanings of adaptation: (1) individual fitness; (2) adaptation of a population; (3) adaptation as the process of natural selection; (4) adaptive traits; (5) molecular adaptation; (6) adaptation as structural tinkering; (7) plasticity. For convenience here, we refer to them as W-, P-, NS-, T-, M-, S- and PL-ADAPTATION. We present the seven meanings in some detail, hinting at their respective origins and conceptual developments in the history of evolutionary thought (references are offered for further deepening). However, it is important to point out that evolution researchers seldom if ever refer to a single meaning purified from the others. This applies also to the authors we cite as representatives of one of the seven meanings. In Discussion and Conclusion draw from our work some future perspectives for adaptation within evolutionary biology.

Links

PhilArchive

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

  • Only published works are available at libraries.

Similar books and articles

L'adaptation Evolutive.J. T. Wiebes - 1982 - Acta Biotheoretica 31 (4):239-243.
Preadaptation and the Explanation of Human Evolution.Cameron Shelley - 1999 - Biology and Philosophy 14 (1):65-82.
Development, Evolution, and Adaptation.Kim Sterelny - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (3):387.
Group Adaptation, Formal Darwinism and Contextual Analysis.Samir Okasha & Cedric Paternotte - 2012 - Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25 (6):1127–1139.
Adaptation and Moral Realism.William F. Harms - 2000 - Biology and Philosophy 15 (5):699-712.
Maynard Smith, Optimization, and Evolution.Sahotra Sarkar - 2005 - Biology and Philosophy 20 (5):951-966.

Analytics

Added to PP
2014-10-10

Downloads
196 (#63,277)

6 months
20 (#50,246)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Citations of this work

Three Levels of Naturalistic Knowledge.Andreas Stephens - 2019 - In Peter Gärdenfors, Antti Hautamäki, Frank Zenker & Mauri Kaipainen (eds.), Conceptual Spaces: Elaborations and Applications. Springer Verlag.

Add more citations

References found in this work

On the Origin of Species.Charles Darwin - 2008 - Oxford University Press.
Animal Species and Evolution.Ernst Mayr - 1963 - Belknap of Harvard University Press.
Evolution and the Levels of Selection.Samir Okasha - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
Ontogeny and Phylogeny.Stephen Jay Gould - 1978 - Philosophy of Science 45 (4):652-653.

View all 24 references / Add more references