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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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Situating Evolutionary Developmental Biology in Evolutionary Theory

Situating Evolutionary Developmental Biology in Evolutionary Theory

Chapter:
(p.144) Eight Situating Evolutionary Developmental Biology in Evolutionary Theory
Source:
The Theory of Evolution
Author(s):

Alan C. Love

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226671338.003.0008

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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