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Challenging the Modern SynthesisAdaptation, Development, and Inheritance$
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Philippe Huneman and Denis Walsh

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199377176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199377176.001.0001

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Natural Selection, Adaptation, and the Recovery of Development

Natural Selection, Adaptation, and the Recovery of Development

(p.37) 1 Natural Selection, Adaptation, and the Recovery of Development
Challenging the Modern Synthesis

David J. Depew

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by contrasting Spencer’s view of natural selection with Darwin’s understanding of its “paramount power.” Darwin’s interpretation contains seeds of a defining mark of the modern evolutionary synthesis: Adaptation is necessarily a consequence of natural selection working as a “creative” factor over multiple generations. The chapter distinguishes between several versions of the modern synthesis in order to argue that some are less at odds than others with the current turn toward development and in order to suggest that allowing ontogeny to be the generative locus of (much) selectable variation makes for more continuity between the developmentalist turn and the modern synthesis than is sometimes thought. Shifting “adaptation” from trans-generational populations to ontogenetically construed organisms is in tension with the modern evolutionary synthesis, but not as much as some believe.

Keywords:   adaptation, Darwinism, development (ontogeny), fitness, modern evolutionary synthesis, natural selection, phenotypic plasticity, population genetics

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