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(1992) Understanding origins, Dordrecht, Springer.

The evolution of generic forms

Brian C. Goodwin

pp. 213-226

It is now widely accepted that if there are generative laws that operate during the development of organisms, then their morphologies will be constrained so that certain forms are possible and other are not. A possible consequence of this is that the hierarchical taxonomies of organisms arise not from dichotomous branching due to the historical winnowing process of natural selection, producing a discrete spectrum from an initial continuum, but from the intrinsic discontinuities that separate natural kinds generated by dynamical laws. If this is the case, then biological taxonomy has a basis not in the contingencies of history, but in the rational dynamics of biological organization. Such an eventuality would mean that Linnaeus was in a sense closer to the truth than Darwin, whose views on taxonomy were clearly expressed in such statements as "Our classifications will come to be, as far as they can be so made, genealogies; and will then truly give what may be called the plan of creation." It is now possible to construct such genealogies on the basis of, for example, the similarities and differences of genomic DNA sequences in different species. But such genealogies do not reveal the plan of creation.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-015-8054-0_11

Full citation:

Goodwin, B. C. (1992)., The evolution of generic forms, in F. Varela & J. Dupuy (eds.), Understanding origins, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 213-226.

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