Evolutionary developmental biology: Philosophical issues

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Evolutionary developmental biology (Evo–devo) is a loose conglomeration of research programs in the life sciences with two main axes: (a) the evolution of development, or inquiry into the pattern and processes of how ontogeny varies and changes over time; and, (b) the developmental basis of evolution, or inquiry into the causal impact of ontogenetic processes on evolutionary trajectories—both in terms of constraint and facilitation. Philosophical issues are found along both axes surrounding concepts such as evolvability, novelty, and modularity. The developmental basis of evolution has garnered much attention because it speaks to the possibility of revising a standard construal of evolutionary theory, but the evolution of development harbors its own conceptual questions. This article addresses the heterogeneity of Evo–devo’s conglomerate structure (including disagreements over its individuation), as well as the concepts and controversies of philosophical interest pertaining to the evolution of development and the developmental basis of evolution. Future research will benefi t from a shift away from global theorizing toward the scientifi c practices of Evo–devo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Evolutionary Thinking in the Sciences
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9789401790147
ISBN (Print)9789401790130
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015.


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