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adaptationismadaptationisme (fr.); Adaptationismus (ger.)

  • 1) Doctrine according to which something is explained with reference to its environment instead of its intrinsic dynamics.

    Der reine Adaptationismus

    Gruppe, O. (1887). Die griechischen Culte und Mythen in ihren Beziehungen zu den orientalischen Religionen, Bd. 1: xiii:; vgl. 267: »Adaptionismus«; vgl. 702.


    teleological adaptationism

    McLean, R.C. & Ivimey-Cook, W.R. (1956). Textbook of Theoretical Botany, vol. 2: 1252.


    Darwin himself did not reject Lamarckian adaptationism

    Monod, J. (1970). On values in the age of science. In: Tiselius, A. Nilsson, S. (eds.). The Place of Value in a World of Facts, 19-27: 23.

  • 2) A reductionist approach to the study of biological adaptations which considers each character or feature of an organism as having evolved in isolation to fulfil a specific function. (OED 2012)
    The extrapolationist model of macroevolution views trends and major transitions as an extension of allelic substitution within populations […]. [Consequently,] the adaptationism that prevails in interpreting change in local populations gains greater confidence in extrapolation. For if allelic substitutions in ecological time have an adaptive basis, then surely a unidirectional trend that persists for millions of years within a single lineage cannot bear any other interpretation
    Gould, S.J. (1980). Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging? Paleobiology 6, 119-130: 125.
    Adaptationism is defined as ›that approach to evolutionary studies which assumes without further proof that all aspects of the morphology, physiology and behavior of organisms are adaptive optimal solutions to problems‹ (Lewontin 1979)
    Dawkins, R. (1982). The Extended Phenotype. The Gene as the Unit of Selection: 30.

    Adaptationism, the paradigm that views organisms as complex adaptive machines whose parts have adaptive functions subsidiary to the fitness-promoting function of the whole, is today about as basic to biology as the atomic theory is to chemistry. And about as controversial. Explicitly adaptationist approaches are ascendant in the sciences of ecology, ethology, and evolution because they have proven essential to discovery; if you doubt this claim, look at the journals. Gould and Lewontin's call for an alternative paradigm has failed to impress practicing biologists both because adaptationism is successful and well-founded, and because its critics have no alternative research program to offer. Each year sees the establishment of such new journals as Functional Biology and Behavioral Ecology. Sufficient research to fill a first issue of Dialectical Biology has yet to materialize.

    Daly, M. (1991). Natural selection doesn’t have goals, but it’s the reason organisms do (Commentary on P.J.H. Schoemaker, The quest for optimally: a positive heuristic of sence?). Behaviorial and Brain Sciences 14, 219-220: 219.