Inerência e agência na origem e evolução das funções biológicas

sexta-feira, fevereiro 24, 2023

Inherency and agency in the origin and evolution of biological functions 

Stuart A Newman

Biological Journal of the Linnean Society

Published: 14 September 2022



Although discussed by 20th century philosophers in terms drawn from the sciences of non-living systems, in recent decades biological function has been considered in relationship to organismal capability and purpose. Bringing two phenomena generally neglected in evolutionary theory (i.e. inherency and agency) to bear on questions of function leads to a rejection of the adaptationist ‘selected effects’ notion of biological function. I review work showing that organisms such as the placozoans can thrive with almost no functional embellishments beyond those of their constituent cells and physical properties of their simple tissues. I also discuss work showing that individual tissue cells and their artificial aggregates exhibit agential behaviours that are unprecedented in the histories of their respective lineages. I review findings on the unique metazoan mechanism of developmental gene expression that has recruited, during evolution, inherent ancestral cellular functionalities into specialized cell types and organs of the different animal groups. I conclude that most essential functions in animal species are inherent to the cells from which they evolved, not selected effects, and that many of the others are optional ‘add-ons’, a status inimical to fitness-based models of evolution positing that traits emerge from stringent cycles of selection to meet external challenges.

Key words adaptationism, biobots, causal role, cell types, fitness, function, appropriation engine, niche construction, placozoans, selected effects

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