Date: 16/06/2020, at 11:30
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The last decades have seen the flourishing of accounts of evolutionary
forces other than selection, many of which have been collected under the name
of Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (ESS) (Laland et al. 2015). The range of
phenomena targeted by these accounts spans from genetic mechanisms (e.g.
Cherniak & Rodriguez-Esteban 2013, Kimura 1983, Wagner 2015) to developmental
(e.g. Maynard Smith et al. 1985), systemic
(e.g. Kauffman 2000) and neo-Lamarckian (e.g. Koonin & Wolf 2009).
Although almost none of them denies the importance and even
preponderance of selection in the history of life, and they rather aim at
integrating non-selective phenomena into neo-Darwinism (a view known as
‘pluralism’), they are highly criticized by main-stream biology, that either
limits or completely denies their evolutionary importance, often underling that
their contribution to fitness is immaterial.
In this talk, I claim that fitness, being an intrinsically selective
measure, should not be used to judge non-selective phenomena. I show how, by
doing so, the theory of selection falls into the well-known pitfall of becoming
a truism. To avoid the pitfall, I propose to recur to robustness as a
selective-indifferent variable able to account for the contribution to
evolution of non-selective forces. After defining robustness, I analyse some of
the mechanisms that increase the robustness of a system and I suggest how
non-selective phenomena can contribute to the appearance of such mechanisms in
organisms. Finally, I propose a classification of evolutionary phenomena in
terms of changes of form and function, and I show how fitness and robustness
might jointly explain them in a unified, pluralistic account of evolution.
Cherniak, C.; Rodriguez-Esteban, R. (2013). Body maps
on the human genome. Mol. Cytogenet. 6 (1): 61Kauffman, S., (2000).
Investigations. Oxford University Press.
Kimura, M. (1983). The neutral theory of molecular
evolution. Cambridge University Press
Koonin, E. V., Wolf, Y. I (2009). Is evolution
Darwinian or/and Lamarckian? Biology Direct, 4:42
Laland K.N., Uller T., Feldman M.W., Sterelny K.,
Müller G.B., Moczek A., Jablonka E., Odling-Smee J. (2015). The extended
evolutionary synthesis: its structure, assumptions and predictions. Proc. R.
Soc. B 282: 20151019
Maynard Smith, J., Burian, R., Kauffman, S., Alberch,
P., Campbell, J., Goodwin, B., Lande, R., Raup, D., Wolpert, L. (1985).
Developmental Constraints and Evolution: A Perspective from the Mountain Lake
Conference on Development and Evolution. The Quarterly Review of Biology,
(60) 3: 265-287
Wagner, A., (2011), The Origins of Evolutionary
Innovations, Oxford University Press