Patterned Process in Biological Evolution

  • David R. KellerEmail author
Part of the Studies in Global Justice book series (JUST, volume 19)


Ecological systems and the process of biological evolution cannot be understood apart from each other. According to the latter, organisms of a particular species compete with each other for survival. Those that are most fit for survival are more likely to survive, and hence are more likely to produce offspring that are similarly fit. And so on. But environmental conditions are constantly changing, and random genetic mutation produces new forms, so the process of evolution does not result in a final stasis. In fact, organisms, and the ecological systems of which they are a part, play a causal role in changing the organic and inorganic environments within which future organisms must compete. Thus, organisms and ecological communities are integral to the very process of biological evolution that creates them. Evolutionary theory has influenced the development of metaphysics by making logical room for a non-essentialist conception of biological species and an explanation for the process of speciation that does not resort to the metaphysics of formal and final causation. In so doing, it agrees with the empirical fact that the biological world is full of imperfection. Indeed, imperfection, in the form of disadvantage in the struggle to live and reproduce, is the driving force of biological evolution. Better adapted organisms outcompete their conspecifics and are thus naturally selected to pass on their advantageous traits.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Salt Lake CityUSA

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