Conceptual barriers to progress within evolutionary biology

Kevin Neville Laland, F J Odling-Smee, M W Feldman, J R Kendal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In spite of its success, Neo-Darwinism is faced with major conceptual barriers to further progress, deriving directly from its metaphysical foundations. Most importantly, neo-Darwinism fails to recognize a fundamental cause of evolutionary change, "niche construction". This failure restricts the generality of evolutionary theory, and introduces inaccuracies. It also hinders the integration of evolutionary biology with neighbouring disciplines, including ecosystem ecology, developmental biology, and the human sciences. Ecology is forced to become a divided discipline, developmental biology is stubbornly difficult to reconcile with evolutionary theory, and the majority of biologists and social scientists are still unhappy with evolutionary accounts of human behaviour. The incorporation of niche construction as both a cause and a product of evolution removes these disciplinary boundaries while greatly generalizing the explanatory power of evolutionary theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-216
Number of pages22
JournalFoundations of Science
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009

Keywords

  • Niche construction
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Ecological inheritance
  • Ecosystem ecology
  • Developmental biology
  • CULTURAL NICHE CONSTRUCTION
  • ECOSYSTEM ENGINEERS
  • SEXUAL SELECTION
  • DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY
  • CONSEQUENCES
  • ORGANISMS
  • DYNAMICS
  • IMPACT
  • METAPOPULATION
  • FLAMMABILITY

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