Evo-devo and the structure(s) of evolutionary theory: A different kind of challenge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

12 Scopus citations


Many researchers have argued that evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) constitutes a challenge to standard evolutionary theory, requiring the explicit inclusion of developmental processes that generate variation and attention to organismal form (rather than adaptive function). An analysis of these developmental-form challenges indicates that the primary concern is not the inclusion of specific content but the epistemic organization or structure of evolutionary theory. Proponents of developmental-form challenges favor moving their considerations to a more central location in evolutionary theorizing, in part because of a commitment to the value of mechanistic explanation. This chapter argues there are multiple legitimate structures for evolutionary theory, instead of a single, overarching or canonical organization, and different theory presentations can be understood as idealizations that serve different investigative and explanatory goals in evolutionary inquiry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationChallenging the Modern Synthesis
Subtitle of host publicationAdaptation, Development, and Inheritance
EditorsP Humeman, D Walsh
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9780199377176
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2017. All rights reserved.


  • Development
  • Form
  • Function
  • Idealization
  • Material inference
  • Mechanistic explanation
  • Pluralism
  • Structure
  • Theory


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