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Homology, Genes, and Evolutionary Innovation$
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Günter P. Wagner

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691156460

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691156460.001.0001

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The Intellectual Challenge of Morphological Evolution: A Case for Variational Structuralism

The Intellectual Challenge of Morphological Evolution: A Case for Variational Structuralism

Chapter:
(p.7) 1 The Intellectual Challenge of Morphological Evolution: A Case for Variational Structuralism
Source:
Homology, Genes, and Evolutionary Innovation
Author(s):

Günter P. Wagner

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691156460.003.0002

This chapter explores variational structuralism, whose core idea is that organisms and their parts play causal roles in shaping the patterns of phenotypic evolution. Drawing on the work of pioneers such as Ron Amundson, it discusses the conceptual incompatibilities between two styles of thinking in evolutionary biology: functionalism and structuralism. It proceeds by explaining the meaning of developmental types and structuralist concepts arising from macromolecular studies. It also examines facts and ideas about bodies, Rupert Riedl's theory of the “immitatory epigenotype,” and Neil Shubin and Pere Alberch's developmental interpretation of tetrapod limbs. Finally, it looks at the emergence of molecular structuralism and the enigma of developmental variation. The chapter argues that typology naturally emerged from the facts of evolutionary developmental biology and that it would be seriously problematic to try to avoid it.

Keywords:   variational structuralism, phenotypic evolution, evolutionary biology, functionalism, structuralism, developmental types, molecular structuralism, developmental variation, typology, evolutionary developmental biology

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