These interviews were conducted at the 2013 International Summer School on Evolution which was organized by the Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab in collaboration with Ciência Viva, and held at Ciência Viva’s Pavilion of Knowledge in Lisbon, Portugal.
In the following first video I was interviewed on Philosophy of Biology, the Extended Synthesis, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Niche Construction, Macroevolution, Symbiogenesis and the Gaia Hypothesis and Niche Construction.
In the second video the School teachers were asked to give their definition of evolution: these were Bruce Lieberman, Folmer Bokma, Michael Arnold, Luis Villarreal, Frietson Galis, Ilya Tëmkin, Mónica Tamariz, Marion Blute, Fiona Jordan, Michael Ruse, Derek Turner, Frédéric Bouchard, Emanuele Serrelli and Nathalie Gontier. The AppEEL You Tube channel features full interviews with these and other scholars.
THE IMPORTANCE OF UNIVERSAL SYMBIOGENESIS, UNIVERSAL PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIA THEORY, PHENOTYPIC PLASTICITY AND NICHE CONSTRUCTION FOR THE SOCIOCULTURAL SCIENCES
In recent years, the classic humanity and life science departments have seen a fast rise of new fields such as Evolutionary Anthropology, Evolutionary Sociology, Evolutionary Linguistics and Evolutionary Psychology. These new fields primarily examine how Natural Selection Theory can be universalized to explain the origin and evolution of human cognition, culture or language. A consequence is that scholars active in dual inheritance theories, gene-culture co-evolutionary theory, memetics, or the units and (multiple) levels of selection debate, are actively seeking what the adaptive benefits are of sociocultural traits; what the sociocultural analogs are of genes; and which sociocultural selective pressures or levels of sociocultural selection can be distinguished.
We, on the contrary, will explore how biological evolutionary theories that are associated with the Extended Synthesis can be extended and implemented into studies on human, sociocultural and linguistic evolution.
In biology, theories of symbiosis, symbiogenesis, horizontal and lateral gene transfer have demonstrated that the transmission of traits does not necessarily follow a linear and vertical pattern of descent. In sociocultural evolution too, the transmission of traits is multidirectional, and often occurs through horizontal transmission.
Punctuated equilibria theory has proven that evolution is not necessarily gradual, and scholars active in the fields of archeology and anthropology also point out periods in human evolution that are characterized by cultural stasis which are intermitted by rapid sociocultural change.
Phenotypic plasticity and niche construction theory are currently redefining how we should perceive the interaction between biological organisms and their environments. Rather than being passive entities that undergo selection by an active environment, biologists are currently investigating how organisms partly construct their niche and how organisms are able to demonstrate plasticity towards changing environments. These theories too provide new means by which we can conceptualize sociocultural evolution.
Dawkins, R. 1983 Universal Darwinism. In Hull, D.L. & Ruse, M. (eds.) The philosophy of biology. New York: Oxford University Press: 15-35. [First published in Bendall, D.S. (ed.) 1998 Evolution from molecules to man. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press: 403-25.]
Campbell, D.T. 1997 From Evolutionary Epistemology via Selection Theory to a Sociology of Scientific Validity. Evolution and Cognition 3: 5-38.
Mesoudi A, Whiten A, Laland KN 2006 Towards a Unified Science of Cultural Evolution. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29:329-383.
Gontier N. 2012 Applied Evolutionary Epistemology: A New Methodology to Enhance Interdisciplinary Research Between the Human and Natural Sciences. Kairos, Journal of Philosophy and Science, 4: 7-49.
Lecture 2: Sociocultural Evolution and Universal Symbiogenesis (Nathalie)
Gontier N. 2007.Universal Symbiogenesis: a Genuine Alternative to Universal Selectionist Accounts. Symbiosis 44: 167-181.
Is culture natural? Language and reading as an example
A public conference and a conference for high-school students on biological and cultural evolution.
In collaboration with City Museums of Como, Centro Filippo Buonarroti, and Pikaia webportal on evolution.
Look for it in the Talks page (with additional links):
2012, Feb 9 (h.10.30 and 14.30) – Liceo P. Carcano, Biblioteca Comunale, Como, IT: Evolution Day: La cultura è naturale? L’esempio del linguaggio e della lettura. With Maurizio Casiraghi. Conference.
In academic year 2011-2012 Emanuele Serrelli is advisor and chair of the conference series “Voglia di evoluzione” organized by student representatives in the Department of Biology, University of Milan. The series aims to deepen some “hot” topics in contemporary evolutionary biology (EvoDevo, phenotypic plasticity, epigenetics) that are nonetheless rarely explained in normal biology curricula. Authoritative researchers are invited to present their researches and discuss with students. An original aspect is the coupling of animal and plant models, usually confined to being examples of either one or the other phenomenon.
Evo-Devo, or evolutionary developmental biology, has been presented by Dott. Giuseppe Fusco and Prof. Alessandro Minelli (Università degli Studi di Padova) and Dott. Fabio Fornara dell’Università degli Studi di Milano (November 23, 2011). Video available on Youtube.
Phenotypic plasticity, or the property of a genotype to give rise to different phenotypes in varying environmental conditions, has been exposed by Dott. Walter Salzburger (University of Basilea) and Dott. Marco Caccianiga (Università degli Studi di Milano) (January 26, 2012). Video available on Youtube.
Epigenetics or “weak inheritance” (or, the heritability of phenotypic modifications) has been presented by Prof. Marcello Buiatti (Università degli Studi di Firenze) (April 17, 2012).
The series ended with a roundtable with Prof. Marco Ferraguti (Università degli Studi di Milano), Prof.ssa Eva Jablonka (University of Tel Aviv) and Prof. Telmo Pievani (Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca) (May 17, 2012) on “Evolution in 4 dimensions” and the extension of the Modern Synthesis. Article and video on Pikaia.
The concept of adaptation is employed in many fields such as biology, psychology, cognitive sciences, robotics, social sciences, even literacy and art,1 and its meaning varies quite evidently according to the particular research context in which it is applied. We expect to find a particularly rich catalogue of meanings within evolutionary biology, where adaptation has held a particularly central role since Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859) throughout important epistemological shifts and scientific findings that enriched and diversified the concept. Accordingly, a conceptual taxonomy of adaptation in evolutionary biology may help to disambiguate it. Interdisciplinary researches focused on adaptation would benefit from such a result. In the present work we recognize and define seven different meanings of adaptation: (1) individual fitness; (2) adaptation of a population; (3) adaptation as the process of natural selection; (4) adaptive traits; (5) molecular adaptation; (6) adaptation as structural tinkering; (7) plasticity. For convenience here, we refer to them as W-, P-, NS-, T-, M-, S- and PL-ADAPTATION. We present the seven meanings in some detail, hinting at their respective origins and conceptual developments in the history of evolutionary thought (references are offered for further deepening). However, it is important to point out that evolution researchers seldom if ever refer to a single meaning purified from the others. This applies also to the authors we cite as representatives of one of the seven meanings. In Discussion and Conclusion draw from our work some future perspectives for adaptation within evolutionary biology.
Look for it in the Publications page (with additional links):
Serrelli E, Rossi FM (2009). A conceptual taxonomy of adaptation in evolutionary biology. doi 10.13140/2.1.4366.7209