Adaptationist Program, The
An approach to testing theories about species-typical traits that focusses on the fit between an organism’s traits and relevant features of that species’ ancestral ecology.
How do birds know when to fly south? How do they find their way? How do people learn to speak and read? When are they generous? When are they cruel?
When studying these and other questions about the nature of naturally selected organisms, one can gain a distinct advantage by considering the ecology in which the organism’s ancestors evolved and what problems they faced. The adaptationist program offers a framework and approach for testing theories about naturally selected organisms.
The Adaptationist Framework
An adaptationist does not assume or purport that all (or even most) features of organisms are adaptations. An organism, or the “nature” of a species (e.g., “human nature”), can be dissected into an infinite number of features (e.g., having...
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