Integrating evolutionary explanations: Developmental repatterning as a population-level mechanism
Organização:  Centre for Philosophy of the Sciences da Australian National University (ANU)
Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
22 / 06 / 2023

Evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) is often portrayed by theoreticians of the field as bringing a mechanistic perspective into evolutionary biology. Usually, it is also illustrated as stressing the causal role that development plays in the evolutionary process. However, mechanistic studies in evo-devo typically refer to lineage-specific transformations and lack the generality that evolutionary explanations usually aim for. After reviewing the prospects and limits of a mechanistic view of evo-devo and their studies of homology and novelty, in this talk I propose a way to combine this mechanistic view with the population-level inclination of more classical approaches to evolution. In particular, I argue for developmental repatterning as a general mechanistic structure organized in such a way that it produces biases in the production of evolutionarily relevant phenotypic variation in populations. This structure refers to the organizational properties of all lineages that, through reproduction, development, mutations and recombinations, channel phenotypic changes through the properties of developmental mechanisms. I contend that developmental repatterning can be incorporated into the broader picture of population-level evolutionary mechanisms, which in turn helps situate better the agenda of evo-devo and its vindications on the causal role of development into our philosophical discussions of evolution.

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