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Design – an inappropriate concept in evolutionary theory

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Abstract:

Abstract

The concept of accident in evolution refers to causes which are stochastic with respect to selective demands arising from the external environment and acting on the organism, while the concept of design refers to causes which meet the requirement of these selective demands. The condition ‘with respect to selective demands’ is generally forgotten so that evolutionary changes are described as being design modifications. Design is an invalid synonym for adaptation. Further it implies a designer and has been used by some authors since before Darwin to argue that design in organisms demonstrates the existence of a designer and hence a plan. Yet if evolution depends on two simultaneously acting causes, one of which is accidental, then the process of evolution and all attributes of organisms are accidental. The concept of design is inappropriate in biology and should be eliminated from all biological explanations.

Keywords: Darwin; Design; Mayr; adaptation; evolution; paradaptation; selective demands

Document Type: Short Communication

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0469.2008.00505.x

Publication date: 2009-02-01

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