Complexity, Self-Organization and Selection
Author: Richardson, R.C.
Source: Biology and Philosophy, Volume 16, Number 5, November 2001 , pp. 653-682(30)
Abstract:Recent work on self organization promises an explanation of complex order which is independent of adaptation. Self-organizing systems are complex systems of simple units, projecting order as a consequence of localized and generally nonlinear interactions between these units. Stuart Kauffman offers one variation on the theme of self-organization, offering what he calls a ``statistical mechanics'' for complex systems. This paper explores the explanatory strategies deployed in this ``statistical mechanics,'' initially focusing on the autonomy of statistical explanation as it applies in evolutionary settings and then turning to Kauffman's analysis. Two primary morals emerge as a consequence of this examination: first, the view that adaptation and self-organization should be seen as competing theories or models is misleading and simplistic; and second, while we need a synthesis treating self-organization and adaptation as geared toward different problems, at different levels of organization, and deploying different methods, we do not yet have such a synthesis.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati OH 45221-0374, U.S.A. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date: November 1, 2001