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What are the major transitions?

Herron, Matthew (2020) What are the major transitions? [Preprint]

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Abstract

The ‘Major Transitions in Evolution’ (MTE) framework has emerged as the dominant paradigm for understanding the origins of life's hierarchical organization, but it has been criticized on the grounds that it lacks theoretical unity, that is, that the events included in the framework do not constitute a coherent category. I agree with this criticism, and I argue that the best response is to modify the framework so that the events it includes do comprise a coherent category, one whose members share fundamental similarities. Specifically, I recommend defining major transitions as all those, and only those, events and processes that result in the emergence of a new population of evolutionary individuals. Two sorts of change will be required to achieve this. First, events and processes that do not meet this criterion, such as the origins of the genetic code and of human language, should be excluded. Second, events and processes that do meet the criterion, but which have generally been neglected, should be included. These changes would have the dual benefits of making MTEs a philosophically coherent category and of increasing the sample size on which we may infer trends and general principles that may apply to all MTEs.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Herron, Matthewxprinceps@gmail.com0000-0002-9578-0972
Additional Information: Accepted for publication in Biology & Philosophy 2020-10-26
Keywords: Evolution, Individuality, Major Transitions, Transitions in individuality
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Natural Kinds
Depositing User: Dr. Matthew Herron
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2020 13:45
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2020 13:45
Item ID: 18319
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Natural Kinds
Date: 19 February 2020
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18319

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