Hierarchy Theory of Evolution and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis: Some Epistemic Bridges, Some Conceptual Rifts

Evolutionary Biology 45 (2):127-139 (2018)
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Abstract

Contemporary evolutionary biology comprises a plural landscape of multiple co-existent conceptual frameworks and strenuous voices that disagree on the nature and scope of evolutionary theory. Since the mid-eighties, some of these conceptual frameworks have denounced the ontologies of the Modern Synthesis and of the updated Standard Theory of Evolution as unfinished or even flawed. In this paper, we analyze and compare two of those conceptual frameworks, namely Niles Eldredge’s Hierarchy Theory of Evolution (with its extended ontology of evolutionary entities) and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (with its proposal of an extended ontology of evolutionary processes), in an attempt to map some epistemic bridges (e.g. compatible views of causation; niche construction) and some conceptual rifts (e.g. extra-genetic inheritance; different perspectives on macroevolution; contrasting standpoints held in the “externalism–internalism” debate) that exist between them. This paper seeks to encourage theoretical, philosophical and historiographical discussions about pluralism or the possible unification of contemporary evolutionary biology.

Author Profiles

Francisco Vergara-Silva
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

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