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Outgrowth of a meeting of the "Altenberg 16" at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Altenberg, Austria, in July 2008. Cf. pref.
The natural world is infinitely complex and hierarchically structured, with smaller units forming the components of larger systems: genes are components genomes, cells are building blocks of tissues and organs, individuals are members of populations, which, in turn, are parts of species. In the face of such awe inspiring complexity, scientists need tools like the hierarchy theory of evolution, which provides a theoretical framework and an interdisciplinary research program that aims to understand the way complex biological systems work and evolve. The multidisciplinary approach looks at the structure of the myriad intricate interactions across levels of organization that range from molecules to the biosphere. Evolutionary Theory: A Hierarchical Perspective provides an introduction to the theory, which is currently driving a great deal of research in bioinformatics and evolutionary theory. Written by a diverse and renowned group of contributors, and edited by the founder of Hierachy Theory Niles Eldredge, this work will help make transparent the fundamental patterns driving living sytems.
This volume describes features of autonomy and integrates them into the recent discussion of factors in evolution. In recent years ideas about major transitions in evolution are undergoing a revolutionary change. They include questions about the origin of evolutionary innovation, their genetic and epigenetic background, the role of the phenotype and of changes in ontogenetic pathways. In the present book, it is argued that it is likewise necessary to question the properties of these innovations and what was qualitatively generated during the macroevolutionary transitions. The author states that a recurring central aspect of macroevolutionary innovations is an increase in individual organismal autonomy whereby it is emancipated from the environment with changes in its capacity for flexibility, self-regulation and self-control of behavior. The first chapters define the concept of autonomy and examine its history and its epistemological context. Later chapters demonstrate how changes in autonomy took place during the major evolutionary transitions and investigate the generation of organs and physiological systems. They synthesize material from various disciplines including zoology, comparative physiology, morphology, molecular biology, neurobiology and ethology. It is argued that the concept is also relevant for understanding the relation of the biological evolution of man to his cultural abilities. Finally the relation of autonomy to adaptation, niche construction, phenotypic plasticity and other factors and patterns in evolution is discussed. The text has a clear perspective from the context of systems biology, arguing that the generation of biological autonomy must be interpreted within an integrative systems approach.
Providing new insights into the contemporary creationist-evolution debates, this book looks at the Hindu cultural-religious traditions of India, the Hindu Dharma traditions. By focusing on the interaction of religion and science in a Hindu context, it offers a global context for understanding contemporary creationist-evolution conflicts and tensions utilizing a critical analysis of Hindu perspectives on these issues. The cultural and political as well as theological nature of these conflicts is illustrated by drawing attention to parallels with contemporary Islamic and Buddhist responses to modern science and Darwinism. The book explores various ancient and classical Hindu models to explain the origin of the universe encompassing creationist as well as evolutionary—but non-Darwinian—interpretations of how we came to be. Complex schemes of cosmic evolution were developed, alongside creationist proofs for the existence of God utilizing distinctly Hindu versions of the design argument. After examining diverse elements of the Hindu Dharmic traditions that laid the groundwork for an ambivalent response to Darwinism when it first became known in India, the book highlights the significance of the colonial context. Analysing critically the question of compatibility between traditional Dharmic theories of knowledge and the epistemological assumptions underlying contemporary scientific methodology, the book raises broad questions regarding the frequently alleged harmony of Hinduism, the eternal Dharma, with modern science, and with Darwinian evolution in particular.
Battles over creation or evolution have been perpetuated for years by vocal Christians and scientists alike. But conflict has never been the only choice. Laying Down Arms to Heal the Creation-Evolution Divide presents a comprehensive, uplifting alternative that brings together an orthodox, biblical view of a sovereign Creator-God and the meaningful discoveries of modern evolutionary biology. Gary Fugle offers unique insights into this debate from his dual perspective as both an award-winning biology professor and a committed leader in conservative evangelical churches. In focusing on the stumbling blocks that surround creation and evolution debates, Fugle sensitively addresses the concerns of skeptical Christians and demonstrates how believers may celebrate evolution as a remarkable aspect of God's glory. He describes how the mainstream scientific community, as well as numerous Christians, may alter current approaches to eliminate conflicts. He explains conservative readings of early Genesis that respect both the inerrant words of Scripture and the evolutionary revelations in God's natural creation. This book is for individuals who sense that biblical Christian faith and evolution are compatible without compromising core convictions. If given good reasons to do so, are we willing to lay down our arms to affirm an encompassing vision for the future?
Although the field of quantitative genetics - the study of the genetic basis of variation in quantitative characteristics such as body size, or reproductive success - is almost 100 years old, its application to the study of evolutionary processes in wild populations has expanded greatly over the last few decades. During this time, the use of 'wild quantitative genetics' has provided insights into a range of important questions in evolutionary ecology, ranging from studies conducting research in well-established fields such as life-history theory, behavioural ecology and sexual selection, to others addressing relatively new issues such as populations' responses to climate change or the process of senescence in natural environments. Across these fields, there is increasing appreciation of the need to quantify the genetic - rather than just the phenotypic - basis and diversity of key traits, the genetic basis of the associations between traits, and the interaction between these genetic effects and the environment. This research activity has been fuelled by methodological advances in both molecular genetics and statistics, as well as by exciting results emerging from laboratory studies of evolutionary quantitative genetics, and the increasing availability of suitable long-term datasets collected in natural populations, especially in animals. Quantitative Genetics in the Wild is the first book to synthesize the current level of knowledge in this exciting and rapidly-expanding area. This comprehensive volume also offers exciting perspectives for future studies in emerging areas, including the application of quantitative genetics to plants or arthropods, unraveling the molecular basis of variation in quantitative traits, or estimating non-additive genetic variance. Since this book deals with many fundamental questions in evolutionary ecology, it should be of interest to graduate, post-graduate students, and academics from a wide array of fields such as animal behaviour, ecology, evolution, and genetics.
Generic institutionalism offers a new perspective on institutional economic change within an evolutionary framework. The institutional landscape shapes the social fabric and economic organization in manifold ways. The book elaborates on the ubiquity of such institutional forms with regards to their emergence, durability and exit in social agency-structure relations. Thereby institutions are considered as social learning environments changing the knowledge base of the economy along generic rule-sets in non-nomological ways from within. Specific attention is given to a theoretical structuring of the topic in ontology, heuristics and methodology. Part I introduces a generic naturalistic ontology by comparing prevalent ontological claims in evolutionary economics and preparing them for a broader pluralist and interdisciplinary discourse. Part II reconsiders these ontological claims and confronts it with prevalent heuristics, conceptualizations and projections of institutional change. In this respect the book revisits the institutional economic thought of Thorstein Veblen, Friedrich August von Hayek, Joseph Alois Schumpeter and Pierre Bourdieu. A synthesis is suggested in an application of the generic rule-based approach. Part III discusses the implementation of rule-based bottom-up models of institutional change and provides a basic prototype agent-based computational simulation. The evolution of power relations plays an important role in the programming of real-life communication networks. This notion characterizes the discussed policy realms (Part IV) of ecological and financial sustainability as tremendously complex areas of institutional change in political economy, leading to the concluding topic of democracy in practice. The novelty of this approach is given by its modular theoretical structure. It turns out that institutional change is carried substantially by affective social orders in contrast to rational orders as communicated in orthodox economic realms. The characteristics of affective orders are derived theoretically from intersections between ontology and heuristics, where interdependencies between instinct, cognition, rationality, reason, social practice, habit, routine or disposition are essential for the embodiment of knowledge. This kind of research indicates new generic directions to study social learning in particular and institutional evolution in general.

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