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Plasticity and information

Dickins, Thomas E. (2023) Plasticity and information. In: Dickins, Thomas E. and Dickins, Benjamin J.A., (eds.) Evolutionary Biology: Contemporary and Historical Reflections Upon Core Theory. Evolutionary Biology - New Perspectives on its Development. Springer Berlin / Heidelberg, Cham, CH, 441 - 460. ISBN 9783031220272

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Identification Number: 10.1007/978-3-031-22028-9_26


In this chapter, I discuss developmental plasticity in relation to the concept of reaction norms. Standard treatments of reaction norms have been accused of gene-centrism by those seeking to extend the Modern Synthesis. I analyze this complaint with reference to uses and concepts of information. My central claim is that information concepts are both abstractions and idealizations, and as such have been designed for specific explanatory purposes. The purposes of evolutionary accounts at the population level demanded an instructional view of the information contained in the gene, but I argue that this was not how biologists ever thought of genes and in fact underpinning this view was a more detailed, cybernetic position that is entirely compatible with claims that emerged within developmental systems theory and that have been coopted by some in the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis. Finally, I use this analysis to briefly unravel some of the views allocated to West-Eberhard’s magnum opus, Developmental Plasticity and Evolution.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author, under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
Divisions: CPNSS
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2023 10:24
Last Modified: 19 May 2024 05:39

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