Monday, March 13, 2006

 

The fall and rise of Dr. Pangloss: Adaptationism and the Spandrels Paper 20 years later

[Pigliucci & Kaplan, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, '00]

"Twenty years have passed since Gould and Lewontin published their critique of 'the adaptationist program' - the tendency of some evolutionary biologists to assume, rather than demonstrate, the operation of natural selection. After the 'Spandrels paper', evolutionists were more careful about producing just-so stories based on selection, and paid more attention to a panoply of other processes. Then came reactions against the excesses of the anti-adaptationist movement, which ranged from a complete dismissal of Gould and Lewontin's contribution to a positive call to overcome the problems. We now have an excellent opportunity for finally affirming a more balanced and pluralistic approach to the study of evolutionary biology."

See:

""The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme"

STEPHEN JAY GOULD AND RICHARD C. LEWONTIN

An adaptationist programme has dominated evolutionary thought in england and the united states during the past forty years. It is based on faith in the power of natural selection as an optimizing agent. It proceeds by breaking an organism into unitary 'traits' and proposing an adaptive story for each considered separately...

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