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The Theory of EvolutionPrinciples, Concepts, and Assumptions$
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Samuel M. Scheiner and David P. Mindell

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226671024

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226671338.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

Situating Evolutionary Developmental Biology in Evolutionary Theory

Situating Evolutionary Developmental Biology in Evolutionary Theory

(p.144) Eight Situating Evolutionary Developmental Biology in Evolutionary Theory
The Theory of Evolution

Alan C. Love

University of Chicago Press

Evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) is a complex array of research programs. The place of evo-devo within evolutionary theory is contested, especially with respect to the origin of novelty. For example, evo-devo research aimed at explaining novelties has been a locus for criticizing population genetic explanations. An additional difficulty is that the boundaries of evo-devo are debated. Taking these disagreements as a starting point, this chapter probes the value of a particular account of theory structure for situating evo-devo within evolutionary theory. This endeavor requires distinguishing two approaches for accomplishing the task: “abstract-structure first” and “concrete-practice first.” Using the former approach, evo-devo is situated in terms of distinctively explaining the evolution of morphology and the analysis shows how the framework respects evo-devo as a separate area of inquiry, provides an affirmative answer to the hierarchical ordering of evo-devo within evolutionary theory, and supplies a characterization of how that ordering operates. However, the payoff of these accomplishments is unclear. Two lessons can be derived from this result – one methodological, one substantive – and the chapter closes with reflections on strategies intended to advance scientific inquiry by explicating theoretical structure.

Keywords:   abstract structure, concrete practice, evo-devo, explanation, morphology, novelty, theory structure

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