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What, if Anything, Is an Evolutionary Novelty?

Massimo Pigliucci
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 75, No. 5, Proceedings of the 2006 Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science AssociationPart II: Symposia PapersEdited by Cristina Bicchieri and Jason Alexander (December 2008), pp. 887-898
DOI: 10.1086/594532
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/594532
Page Count: 12
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What, if Anything, Is an Evolutionary Novelty?
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Abstract

The idea of phenotypic novelty appears throughout the evolutionary literature. Novelties have been defined so broadly as to make the term meaningless and so narrowly as to apply only to a limited number of spectacular structures. Here I examine some of the available definitions of phenotypic novelty and argue that the modern synthesis is ill equipped at explaining novelties. I then discuss three frameworks that may help biologists get a better insight of how novelties arise during evolution but warn that these frameworks should be considered in addition to, and not as potential substitutes of, the modern synthesis.

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