E&E Webinar: Philosophy of science

Invited Panel: Simone Blomberg and Shinichi Nakagawa


Modeling causes of evolutionary dynamics
Jun Otsuka (Kyoto University)

Evolutionary dynamics is determined by causal interactions among genotypic, phenotypic, and environmental variables. In this talk I briefly overview applications of causal models for analyzing the causal structure of an evolving population, and show how various evolutionary mechanisms, such as epigenetic inheritance, niche construction, habitat choice, and so forth affect between-generation changes expressed by the Price equation. I argue that the use of causal models sheds light on hitherto neglected forms of evolution, such as an adaptive evolution not caused by natural selection.

Developmental plasticity and evolutionary explanations
Tobias Uller (Lund University)

Evolution of life on earth is an insanely complex process. So how can we ever hope to provide evolutionary explanations for the features of, say, lichens, lugworms or lizards? Using examples from contemporary research on (and debate about) the role of plasticity in evolution, I discuss how evolutionary biologists make use of idealization to handle causal complexity, and why those idealizations influence what we consider to be satisfactory explanations for adaptation and diversification.