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Unformatted text preview: 4/5/10 Bio 151 - Prof. Autumn 1 Bio 151 - Prof. Autumn Teleology Functionalism Morphology Structuralism Aristotle Final causality Plato Essentialism Lamarck Cuvier Geoffroy France Britain Ray Paley Bell Owen Darwin Gray Buffon Conditions of Existence Unity of Type NATURAL COMMON ANCESTRY SELECTION Adaptation: Design in Nature? Copyright (©) Kel ar Autumn 1995-2000 Many introductory biology courses would introduce adaptation by putting a couple of equations on the board or showing some slides with amazing features of animals uniquely adapted to extreme environments. The word adaptation, like fitness, has such a common usage and a long history that one would think there is little to argue about in its definition. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Debate over the meaning of adaptation predates Darwin and has generated dozens of articles in major publications in just the last few years. What is the problem and why are we still arguing about it? In brief, the problem is: what explains diversity: Structure or Function? I will present a brief history of the adaptation controversy and show that it represents a fundamental split in the way biologists approach their work today. I should mention that I think we are closer now to a consensus on this issue than ever before. This is primarily due to conceptual advances that have added the dimension of history to traditionally ahistorical fields such as behavior, ecology, and physiology. These advances have turned the dichotomy in to a trichotomy: Structure vs. Function vs. History The adaptation controversy revolves around a fundamental conflict between the teleological philosophy of Aristotle and the essentialism of Plato. A pivotal instance of the conflict was that of Georges Cuvier (comparative anatomy) vs. Etienne Geoffroy St. Hiliare (morphology). In 1830 a famous debate took place between Cuvier and Geoffroy. The main point of the debate was whether the explanation for the origin of form lies in teleology or homology. My lecture in many ways parallels George Lauder’s excellent chapter on the argument from design in the book Adaptation (Lauder 1996). This is a really good example of academic convergence -I’ve been giving this lecture since 1992. I will first set the historical stage for the debate between Cuvier and Geoffroy in France, and then discuss the issues of the debate. The debate is particularly interesting because it involved the primary issues that Darwin tried to resolve in Britain. After establishing the connection between the Cuvier–Geoffroy debate and Darwinism, I will show that the issues are still not resolved in 2000. There is a fundamental split in biology that has its roots in greek philosophy and 17th century theology that continues to generate controversy today. 4/5/10 Bio 151 - Prof. Autumn 2 Greek explanations for adaptations 1. Intelligent design....
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- Spring '10
- Morphology, Prof. Autumn