Evolution (of Organisms)

06 Jan 2016 01:37

[A proper discussion of evolution will appear here Any Year Now.]

Issues in evolution proper: adaptation; complexity; developmental constraints and the evolution of development; ecology and co-evolution; game theory; genetics; sociobiology (in non-human beasties; in human beings, and what exactly it can and cannot account for); units of selection controversies (genes [Dawkins, Maynard Smith, Williams] vs. gene-complexes [Lewontin, sorta] vs. organisms [Williams the first time around] vs. groups [Sober?]) and group-selection arguments (when can traits which benefit a higher level of selection at the expense of the lower ones evolve? Probably never; the higher level entities don't have enough coherence and persistence to act as replicators).

Query: What is known about the asymptotic distribution of the population under (discrete-time) replicator dynamics? What if the space of types in the replicator dynamics is infinite-dimensional? Or the fitness function is subject to stochastic shocks? Or both? (This now has its own notebook.)

Extensions of evolution: to brain function; to computer programming ; to culture (memetics); to economics; to epistemology; to psychology.

Mathematical modeling: classical population genetics à la Fisher, Haldane and Wright, and its extensions via dynamics; game theory à la John Maynard Smith. Connections to physics. Agent-based modeling.

Challenges to neo-Darwinism: Here, as usual, my inclinations are conservative, in that I really don't see what's wrong with the orthodox theory. In any case, there don't seem to be any real alternatives yet advanced. (Neutral mutations by definition explain the origins of neither adaptations nor species.)