Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Author Item Summary Meta data
I 198
Adaptation/Preadaption/Gould: Definition preadaption: derived from the thesis that other functions have been fulfilled in the initial stages. E.g. half a jaw could support the gills. Half a wing may have been used to catch prey, or to control body temperature.
Gould: the concept of pre-adaptation is indispensable, but it is not appropriate to demonstrate continuity in all cases.
I 199
For example, in two genera of Biodae (giant snakes) on Mauritius there is a divided maxillary bone (with elastic connection), which is not found in any other vertebrate on earth. Here a discontinuous transition is preferable because a jaw cannot be half broken.
I 195
For example, fish with jaws are related to their ancestors without jaws. Macroevolution (the larger structural transitions) is nothing but an expanded microevolution (e. g. the change of flies in closed containers).
I 196
For example, if black moths replace whites within a century, reptiles can become birds by gently summing up countless changes over a few million years.
II 51
Adaptation/Gould: We do not have to choose between limitation and beauty of adaptation, because only both together provides the necessary tension to regulate evolution.
Selection/Gould: GouldVs: Gould is directed against the assumption of a consistent selection, or the assumption that there is an effect of selection on each level at the same time, or the theory that every detail that can be found in an organism results from the selection.
Behavior/Adaptation: Each individual behavior may be a wonderful adaptation, but it must be shaped within a prevailing limitation. E. g. breeding behaviour of the gannet.
II 52
Behavior/Animal/Gould: The sources of organic forms and behaviours are diverse and contain at least three primary categories:
a) Instantaneous adaptation (the behaviour of the offspring),
b) The potential non-adaptive consequences of basic structural designs that act as restrictions on adaptation.
c) adaptations of ancestors now used by the descendants in other ways.
II 153
Adaptation/GouldVsAdaptionism/Gould: for example, special characteristics of some abnormal human children cannot be described as adaptation.
We do not inhabit a perfect world in which natural selection ruthlessly checks all organic structures and then shapes them for optimal utility. In many cases, evolution reflects more inherited patterns than current environmental demands.
II 152
We tend (incorrectly) to view each structure as if it were created for a particular purpose.
IV 27
Adaptation/Adjustment/Gould: we should not conclude that Darwin's assumed adaptability to a local environment has unrestricted power to generate theoretically optimal designs for all situations. The natural selection can only use existing material. Classic dilemma of evolutionary theory.
Question: how do the intermediate steps arise?
Structuralists (like Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, 1772-1844): Thesis: First the form changes and then finds a function.
Functionalists (like Lamarck): thesis: organisms must first adopt a different way of life before the forms develop.
DarwinVsStructuralism: the environment does not pass on its requirements for adaptation directly to the organism. Rather indirectly through more survivor's descendants of those who were lucky enough to vary towards a better adaptation to their local environment.
IV 28
Lamarck: in fact, it was he who had found the right answer (like Darwin): he merely proposed a false mechanism for transferring information between the environment and the organism. His functionalist solution contains an elegant simplification that is accepted today by almost all evolutionary researchers.
It is neither the shape of the body nor the form of its opponents that gives rise to the habits of the animals, but on the contrary, it is the habits and living conditions that have formed the shape of the body over time".(1)
Gould: This is considered correct today.

1. Lamarck, J.B. (1809/1984). Zoological Philosophy. Chicago: University Press.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Gould I
Stephen Jay Gould
The Panda’s Thumb. More Reflections in Natural History, New York 1980
German Edition:
Der Daumen des Panda Frankfurt 2009

Gould II
Stephen Jay Gould
Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes. Further Reflections in Natural History, New York 1983
German Edition:
Wie das Zebra zu seinen Streifen kommt Frankfurt 1991

Gould III
Stephen Jay Gould
Full House. The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin, New York 1996
German Edition:
Illusion Fortschritt Frankfurt 2004

Gould IV
Stephen Jay Gould
The Flamingo’s Smile. Reflections in Natural History, New York 1985
German Edition:
Das Lächeln des Flamingos Basel 1989

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-06-25
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