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The Dark Side of Niche Construction: Challenges in Modern Medicine & Healthcare

Coninx, Sabrina (2023) The Dark Side of Niche Construction: Challenges in Modern Medicine & Healthcare. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Niche construction denotes the alteration, destruction, or creation of environmental features through the activities of an organism, modifying the relation between organism and environment. The concept of niche construction found application in various fields of research: evolutionary biology, enculturation, ontogenetic development, and local organism-environment coordination. This is because it provides a useful tool emphasizing different aspects of the dynamic interplay between organisms and their actively constructed environment. Traditionally, niche construction is considered a positive mechanism in the complementarity of organism and environment. In contrast, this paper sheds light on the dark side of niche construction, that is, the different manners in which organisms may modify environmental features that are in some way or another harmful to them. First, the paper introduces a paradigmatic distinction of four kinds of niche construction as commonly addressed in recent literature, using more or less extended spatio-temporal scales as the distinguishing feature. Second, the paper elaborates on the concept of negative niche construction, providing normative criteria of (mal)adaptation that are suitable for the evaluation of environmental alterations, given the chosen spatio-temporal scale. Of particular interest are inter-scale conflicts: those cases of environmental constructions which appear adaptive concerning one spatio-temporal scale but maladaptive concerning another. Third, the paper distinguishes the concept of niche construction as a valuable instrument to better understand central aspects of modern medicine and the entangled contribution of evolutionary, socio-cultural, personal, and situational aspects to different health issues, using chronic pain as an illustrative case study.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Coninx, Sabrinasabrina.coninx@gmail.com0000-0003-1209-4609
Keywords: phylogenetic niche construction, sociogenetic niche construction, ontogenetic niche construction, organism-niche coordination, negative niche construction, chronic pain
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
Specific Sciences > Psychology > Evolutionary Psychology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Cultural Evolution
Specific Sciences > Environmental Science
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Health and Disease
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Psychiatry
General Issues > Science and Society
Specific Sciences > Psychology > Social Psychology
Depositing User: Dr. Sabrina Coninx
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2023 17:12
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2023 17:12
Item ID: 21799
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
Specific Sciences > Psychology > Evolutionary Psychology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Cultural Evolution
Specific Sciences > Environmental Science
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Health and Disease
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Psychiatry
General Issues > Science and Society
Specific Sciences > Psychology > Social Psychology
Date: 27 February 2023
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21799

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