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Discussion Questions regarding the Adaptationist Program

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Bio342_Animal_Behavior_2010 NAME_______________

Discussion Questions regarding the Adaptationist Program.

Mayr, E. (1983) How to Carry Out the Adaptionist Program? The American Naturalist, 121:324-334.

Gould, S.J., Lewontin (1979) The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme. Proc. Royal Soc. B. 205:581-598.
Answer 1 of the first 2 questions and 1 of the next 3 questions

Type the answers. Bring them to class. Be prepared to discuss and amend your answers.

1) Gould and Lewontin use metaphors (the basilica of St. Marks, and Voltaire's Candide) in order to ridicule a scientific research approach that they deem inappropriate. Mayr contradicts these authors in a more straightforward manner and ultimately supports the use of adaptationist research. Compare and contrast the writing style in these two papers. (There is a book, Understanding Scientific Prose, that is dedicated to the discussion of Gould and Lewontin's writing technique)
2) Who are (were) Stephen J. Gould, Richard Lewontin, and Earnst Mayr? Why are these men qualified to debate the topic of Adaptationist program? (you'll have to look outside these papers to answer this one.
3) Define atomization and Bauplan and discuss their relative role in an adaptationist program.
4) According to Gould and Lewontin, adaptationists construct faulty explanations when they fail to consider options other than that the trait arose through natural selection. Provide a few of their examples of faulty logic and consider whether Mayr would agree with these criticisms.
5) Mayr makes recommendations about how an adaptationist program should be executed. Discuss those recommendations in your own words while comparing and contrasting them to the "Alternative Strategies" as outlined by Gould and Lewontin.


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