The evolution of the biological sciences

In Nathalie Gontier, Andy Lock & Chris Sinha (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Human Symbolic Evolution. OUP. pp. 3-25 (2024)
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Abstract

This chapter introduces the main research schools and paradigms along which the field of evolutionary biology has been developing. Evolutionary thinking was originally founded upon the Neo-Darwinian paradigm that combines the teachings of traditional Darwinism with those of the Modern Synthesis. The Neo-Darwinian paradigm has since further diversified into the Micro-, Meso-, and Macroevolutionary schools, and it has also started to integrate the school of Ecology. Together, these schools establish the paradigm called Ecological Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Eco-Evo-Devo). A final school studies Reticulate Evolution as it occurs by means of symbiosis, symbiogenesis, lateral gene transfer, infective heredity, and hybridization. This chapter reviews the major tenets and points of differentiation that exist between these distinct evolution schools. The chapter ends by looking into how evolution can be defined and how distinct units, levels, and mechanisms underlie theorizing on evolutionary hierarchies and evolutionary causation. The following chapter examines how the different evolution schools are implemented into the symbolic sciences.

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