Darwin, onde está a causação evolucionária???

sexta-feira, fevereiro 14, 2020

O Causation, Where Art Thou? 

Evolutionary Causation: Biological and Philosophical Perspectives. Uller Tobias, Laland Kevin (editors). The Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology, 2019. 352 pp., illus. (ISBN: 9780262039925, hardcover: alc paper).

Erik I Svensson

Published: 06 February 2020


Tobias Uller (Lund University, Sweden) and Kevin Laland (University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom) have edited this interesting volume consisting of 15 chapters, in which contributors with backgrounds in evolutionary biology or philosophy discuss evolutionary causation from various perspectives. This volume emerged from a large and collaborative international research program, funded by the Templeton Foundation, with the title “Putting the extended evolutionary synthesis to test.” The contributors participated in a workshop within this research program in Vienna on the theme “Cause and process in evolution.”

The background is an intense discussion in the evolutionary biology community regarding the status of the Modern Synthesis, its relationship to present-day research, and whether there is a need for an update, or what has been labeled the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis. Some philosophers and biologists (including the editors of this volume) have argued that there is a need for an extension of evolutionary theory, claiming that traditional population and quantitative genetics do not incorporate phenomena like niche construction, developmental plasticity, developmental bias, and nongenetic inheritance (Laland et al. 2014, 2015). Other evolutionary biologists have questioned this characterization of evolutionary biology and, instead, claim that these phenomena can and have easily been incorporated into the traditional theoretical framework as various add-ons (Charlesworth et al. 2017, Futuyma 2017). For simplicity and convenience, we can label the former camp as reformers and the latter camp as traditionalists, keeping in mind that there are several intermediate conceptual positions in between these two endpoints. Indeed, one of the most interesting insights I gained from reading this volume (which is biased toward the reformist camp) is that those arguing for conceptual change in evolutionary biology are conceptually split among themselves. It is therefore difficult or even impossible to extract a single coherent message from all the contributions in this volume, although I do not think this was necessarily an aim of the editors. Perhaps it is for this reason that there is no concluding remarks chapter. Clearly, there are different voices to be heard in this debate. This volume is a good entry point in to the literature for those seeking to understand what the debate is about and what the main arguments are from the reformers’ side.