James DiFrisco: "Trait classification in biology: historical versus developmental approaches"


07 novembre 2018



Salle Jean Ladrière - Collège Mercier - Place cardinal Mercier, 14

The CEFISES seminar on Historical Explanation is pleased to announce a talk by James DiFrisco, post-doctoral fellow at KU Leuven.

An abstract for the talk follows: The concept of homology underlies virtually all comparative generalizations about traits in biology. Roughly, two traits in distinct organisms or taxa are homologous if they are genealogically connected by
continuous descent from a common ancestor that had the same trait. Recently, several theorists have argued against the prevailing phylogenetic or historical conception of homology in favor of a novel developmental view. They argue that homologues must be tied to their
developmental causes in order to be individuated and to be explained. In this talk I show that this is not the case. Developmental views also face empirical and conceptual difficulties in light of indications from recent evolutionary biology that molecular and morphological evolution are de-coupled to a significant degree. I argue that although development often explains homology, it should not be construed as providing a distinct definition of homology, and thus pluralism about homology concepts is unmotivated.